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In three volumes 


Broadway House, 68-74 Carter Lane, 

London, E.G. 4. 

C A,, 

First p ubiished 1921 

Reprinted 1954 
Reprinted 1957 
Reprinted 1962 



APR 5 1967 













XLIII. CHINA (continued). HISTORY .... 244 

XLIV. CHINA (continued). THE CANON . . . ,281 







L. TIBET (continued). HISTORY .... 347 

LI. TIBET (continued). THE CANON .... 372 

LII. TIBET (continued). DOCTRINES OF LAMAISM . . 382 

LIII. TIBET (continued). SECTS 397 

LIV. JAPAN . 402 









INDEX , 463 





THE subject of this Book is the expansion of Indian influence 
throughout Eastern Asia and the neighbouring islands. That 
influence is clear and wide -spread, nay almost universal, and it 
is with justice that we speak of Further India and the Dutch 
call their colonies Neerlands Indie. For some early chapters in 
the story of this expansion the dates and details are meagre, 
but on the whole the investigator s chief difficulty is to grasp 
and marshal the mass of facts relating to the development of 
religion and civilization in this great region. 

The spread of Hindu thought was an intellectual conquest, 
not an exchange of ideas. On the north-western frontier there 
was some reciprocity, but otherwise the part played by India 
was consistently active and not receptive. The Far East counted 
for nothing in her internal history, doubtless because China was 
too distant and the other countries had no special culture of 
their own. Still it is remarkable that whereas many Hindu 
missionaries preached Buddhism in China, the idea of making 
Confucianism known in India seems never to have entered the 
head of any Chinese. 

It is correct to say that the sphere of India s intellectual 
conquests was the East and North, not the West, but still 
Buddhism spread considerably to the west of its original home 
and entered Persia. Stein discovered a Buddhist monastery in 
" the terminal marshes of the Helmund " in Seistan 1 and Bamian 
is a good distance from our frontier. But in Persia and its 
border lands there were powerful state religions, first Zoro- 
astrianism and then Islam, which disliked and hindered the im 
portation of foreign creeds and though we may see some 
resemblance between Sufis and Vedantists, it does not appear 
that the Moslim civilization of Iran owed much to Hinduism. 

1 Oeog. Jour. Aug., 1916, p. 362. 


But in all Asia north and east of India, excluding most of 
Siberia but including the Malay Archipelago, Indian influence 
is obvious. Though primarily connected with religion it includes 
much more, such as architecture, painting and other arts, an 
Indian alphabet, a vocabulary of Indian words borrowed or 
translated, legends and customs. The whole life of such diverse 
countries as Tibet, Burma, and Java would have been different 
had they had no connection with India. 

In these and many other regions the Hindus must have 
found a low state of civilization, but in the Far East they en 
countered a culture comparable with their own. There was no 
question of colonizing or civilizing rude races. India and China 
met as equals, not hostile but also not congenial, a priest and a 
statesman, and the statesman made large concessions to the 
priest. Buddhism produced a great fermentation and contro 
versy in Chinese thought, but though its fortunes varied it 
hardly ever became as in Burma and Ceylon the national 
religion. It was, as a Chinese Emperor once said, one of the 
two wings of a bird. The Chinese characters did not give way 
to an Indian alphabet nor did the Confucian Classics fall into 
desuetude. The subjects of Chinese and Japanese pictures may 
be Buddhist, the plan and ornaments of their temples Indian, 
yet judged as works of art the pictures and temples are indige 
nous. But for all that one has only to compare the China of the 
Hans with the China of the T angs to see how great was the 
change wrought by India. 

This outgrowing of Indian influence, so long continued and 
so wide in extent, was naturally not the result of any one im 
pulse. At no time can we see in India any passion of discovery, 
any fever of conquest such as possessed Europe when the New 
World and the route to the East round the Cape were discovered. 
India s expansion was slow, generally peaceful and attracted 
little attention at home. Partly it was due to the natural per 
meation and infiltration of a superior culture beyond its own 
borders, but it is equally natural that this gradual process 
should have been sometimes accelerated by force of arms. The 
Hindus produced no Tamerlanes or Babers, but a series of 
expeditions, spread over long ages, but stiD not few in number, 
carried them to such distant goals as Ceylon, Java and 


But the diffusion of Indian influence, especially in China, 
was also due to another agency, namely religious propaganda 
and the deliberate despatch of missions. These missions seem 
to have been exclusively Buddhist for wherever we find records 
of Hinduism outside India, for instance in Java and Camboja, 
the presence of Hindu conquerors or colonists is also recorded 1 . 
Hinduism accompanied Hindus and sometimes spread round 
their settlements, but it never attempted to convert distant and 
alien lands. But the Buddhists had from the beginning the true 
evangelistic temper: they preached to all the world and in 
singleness of purpose : they had no political support from India. 
Many as were the charges brought against them by hostile 
Confucians, it was never suggested that they sought political or 
commercial privileges for their native land. It was this simple 
disinterested attitude which enabled Buddhism, though in many 
ways antipathetic to the Far East, to win its confidence. 

Ceylon is the first place where we have a record of the intro 
duction of Indian civilization and its entry there illustrates all 
the phenomena mentioned above, infiltration, colonization and 
propaganda. The island is close to the continent and communi 
cation with the Tamil country easy, but though there has long 
been a large Tamil population with its own language, religion 
and temples, the fundamental civilization is not Tamil. A 
Hindu called Vijaya who apparently started from the region of 
Broach about 500 B.C. led an expedition to Ceylon and intro 
duced a western Hindu language. Intercourse with the north 
was doubtless maintained, for in the reign of Asoka we find the 
King of Ceylon making overtures to him and receiving with 
enthusiasm the missionaries whom he sent. It is possible that 
southern India played a greater part in this conversion than the 
accepted legend indicates, for we hear of a monastery built by 
Mahinda near Tan j ore 2 . But still language, monuments and 
tradition attest the reality of the connection with northern 

It is in Asoka s reign too that we first hear of Indian influence 
spreading northwards. His Empire included Nepal and Kashmir, 

1 The presence of Brahmans at the Courts of Burma and Siam is a different 
matter. They were expressly invited as more skilled in astrology and state cere 
monies than Buddhists. 

2 Watters, Yuan Chuang, vol. n. p. 228. 


he sent missionaries to the region of Himavanta, meaning 
apparently the southern slopes of the Himalayas, and to the 
Kambojas, an ambiguous race who were perhaps the inhabitants 
of Tibet or its border lands. The Hindu Kush seems to have 
been the limit of his dominions but tradition ascribes to this 
period the joint colonization of Khotan from India and China. 

Sinhalese and Burmese traditions also credit him with the 
despatch of missionaries who converted Suvarnabhumi or Pegu. 
No mention of this has been found in his own inscriptions, and 
European critics have treated it with not unnatural scepticism 
for there is little indication that Asoka paid much attention to 
the eastern frontiers of his Empire. Still I think the question 
should be regarded as being sub judice rather than as answered 
in the negative. 

Indian expeditions to the East probably commenced, if not 
in the reign of Asoka, at least before our era. The Chinese 
Annals 1 state that Indian Embassies reached China by sea 
about 50 B.C. and the Questions of Milinda allude to trade by 
this route: the Ramayana mentions Java and an inscription 
seems to testify that a Hindu king was reigning in Champa 
(Annam) about 150 A.D. These dates are not so precise as one 
could wish, but if there was a Hindu kingdom in that distant 
region in the second century it was probably preceded by settle 
ments in nearer halting places, such as the Isthmus of Kra 2 or 
Java, at a considerably anterior date, although the inscriptions 
discovered there are not earlier than the fifth century A.D. 

Java seems to have left some trace in Indian tradition, for 
instance the proverb that those who go to Java do not come 
back, and it may have been an early distributing centre for 
men and merchandize in those seas. But Ligor probably marks 
a still earlier halting place. It is on the same coast as the Mon 
kingdom of Thaton, which had connection with Conjevaram by 
sea and was a centre of Pali Buddhism. At any rate there was 
a movement of conquest and colonization in these regions which 
brought with it Hinduism and Mahayanism, and established 
Hindu kingdoms in Java, Camboja, Champa and Borneo, and 
another movement of Hinayanist propaganda, apparently 

1 But not contemporary Annals. The Liang Annals make the statement about 
the reign of Hsiian Li 73-49 B.C. 

2 Especially at Ligor or Dharmaraja. 


earlier, but of which we know less 1 . Though these expeditions 
both secular and religious probably took ship on the east coast 
of India, e.g. at Masulipatam or the Seven Pagodas, yet their 
original starting point may have been in the west, such as the 
district of Badami or even Gujarat, for there were trade routes 
across the Indian Peninsula at an early date 2 . 

It is curious that the early history of Burma should be so 
obscure and in order not to repeat details and hypotheses I 
refer the reader to the chapter dealing specially with this 
country. From an early epoch Upper Burma had connection 
with China and Bengal by land and Lower Burma with Orissa 
and Conjevaram by sea. We know too that Pali Buddhism 
existed there in the sixth century, that it gained greatly in 
power in the reign of Anawrata (c. 1060) and that in subsequent 
centuries there was a close ecclesiastical connection with Ceylon. 

Siam as a kingdom is relatively modern but like Burma it 
has been subject to several influences. The Siamese probably 
brought some form of Buddhism with them when they de 
scended from the north to their present territories. From the 
Cambojans, their neighbours and at one time their suzerains, 
they must have acquired some Hinduism and Mahayanism, 
but they ended by adopting Hinayanism. The source was 
probably Pegu but learned men from Ligor were also welcomed 
and the ecclesiastical pre-eminence of Ceylon was accepted. 

We thus see how Indian influence conquered Further India 
and the Malay Archipelago and we must now trace its flow across 
Central Asia to China and Japan, as well as the separate and 
later stream which irrigated Tibet and Mongolia. 

Tradition as mentioned ascribes to Asoka some connection 
with Khotan and it is probable that by the beginning of our 
era the lands of the Oxus and Tarim had become Buddhist and 
acquired a mixed civilization in which the Indian factor was 
large. As usual it is difficult to give precise dates, but Buddhism 
probably reached China by land a little before rather than 
after our era and the prevalence of Gandharan art in the cities 
of the Tarim basin makes it likely that their efflorescence was 
not far removed in time from the Gandharan epoch of India. 

1 The statement of I-Ching that a wicked king destroyed Buddhism in Funan 
is important. 

2 See Fleet in J.R.A.S. 1901, p. 548. 


The discovery near Khotan of official documents written in 
Prakrit makes colonization as well as religious missions probable. 
Further, although the movements of Central Asian tribes com 
monly took the form of invading India, yet the current of 
culture was, on the whole, in the opposite direction. The 
Kushans and others brought with them a certain amount of 
Zoroastrian theology and Hellenistic art, but the compound 
resulting from the mixture of these elements with Buddhism was 
re-exported to the north and to China. 

I shall discuss below the grounds for believing that Buddhism 
was known in China before A.D. 62, the date when the Emperor 
Ming Ti is said to have despatched a mission to enquire about 
it. For some time many of its chief luminaries were immigrants 
from Central Asia and it made its most rapid progress in that 
disturbed period of the third and fourth centuries when North 
China was split up into contending Tartar states which both in 
race and politics were closely connected with Central Asia. 
Communication with India by land became frequent and there 
was also communication vid the Malay Archipelago, especially 
after the fifth century, when a double stream of Buddhist 
teachers began to pour into China by sea as well as by land. 
A third tributary joined them later when Khubilai, the Mongol 
conqueror of China, made Lamaism, or Tibetan Buddhism, the 
state religion. 

Tibetan Buddhism is a form of late Indian Mahayanism with 
a considerable admixture of Hinduism, exported from Bengal 
to Tibet and there modified not so much in doctrine as by the 
creation of a powerful hierarchy, curiously analogous to the 
Roman Church. It is unknown in southern China and not much 
favoured by the educated classes in the north, but the Lamaist 
priesthood enjoys great authority in Tibet and Mongolia, and 
both the Ming and Ch ing dynasties did their best to conciliate 
it for political reasons. Lamaism has borrowed little from 
China and must be regarded as an invasion into northern Asia 
and even Europe 1 of late Indian religion and art, somewhat 
modified by the strong idiosyncrasy of the Tibetan people. This 
northern movement was started by the desire of imitation, not 
of conquest. At the beginning of the seventh century the King 

1 There are settlements of Kalmuks near Astrakhan who have Lama temples 
and maintain a connection with Tibet. 


of Tibet, who had dealings with both India and China, sent a 
mission to the former to enquire about Buddhism and in the 
eighth and eleventh centuries eminent doctors were summoned 
from India to establish the faith and then to restore it after a 
temporary eclipse. 

In Korea, Annam, and especially in Japan, Buddhism has 
been a great ethical, religious and artistic force and in this 
sense those countries owe much to India. Yet there was little 
direct communication and what they received came to them 
almost entirely through China. The ancient Champa was a 
Hindu kingdom analogous to Camboja, but modern Annam 
represents not a continuation of this civilization but a later 
descent of Chinese culture from the north. Japan was in close 
touch with the Chinese just at the period when Buddhism was 
fermenting their whole intellectual life and Japanese thought 
and art grew up in the glow of this new inspiration, which was 
more intense than in China because there was no native antagon 
ist of the same strength as Confucianism. 

In the following chapters I propose to discuss the history of 
Indian influence in the various countries of Eastern Asia, 
taking Ceylon first, followed by Burma and Siam. Whatever 
may have been the origin of Buddhism in these two latter they 
have had for many centuries a close ecclesiastical connection 
with Ceylon. Pali Buddhism prevails in all, as well as in modern 

The Indian religion which prevailed in ancient Camboja was 
however of a different type and similar to that of Champa and 
Java. In treating of these Hindu kingdoms I have wondered 
whether I should not begin with Java and adopt the hypothesis 
that the settlements established there sent expeditions to the 
mainland and Borneo 1 . But the history of Java is curiously 
fragmentary whereas the copious inscriptions of Camboja and 
Champa combined with Chinese notices give a fairly continuous 
chronicle. And a glance at the map will show that if there were 
Hindu colonists at Ligor it would have been much easier for 

1 The existence of a Hindu kingdom on the East Coast of Borneo in 400 A.D. 
or earlier is a strong argument in favour of colonization from Java. Expeditions 
from any other quarter would naturally have gone to the West Coast. Also there is 
some knowledge of Java in India, but apparently none of Camboja or Champa. 
This suggests that Java may have been the first halting place and kept up some 
slight connection with the mother country. 


them to go across the Gulf of Siam to Camboja than via Java. 
I have therefore not adopted the hypothesis of expansion from 
Java (while also not rejecting it) nor followed any chronological 
method but have treated of Camboja first, as being the Hindu 
state of which on the whole we know most and then of Champa 
and Java in comparison with it. 

In the later sections of the book I consider the expansion of 
Indian influence in the north. A chapter on Central Asia 
endeavours to summarize our rapidly increasing knowledge of 
this meeting place of nations. Its history is closely connected 
with China and naturally leads me to a somewhat extended 
review of the fortunes and achievements of Buddhism in that 
great land, and also to a special study of Tibet and of Lamaism. 
I have treated of Nepal elsewhere. For the history of religion 
it is not a new province, but simply the extreme north of the 
Indian region where the last phase of decadent Indian Buddhism 
which practically disappeared in Bengal still retains a nominal 



THE island of Ceylon, perhaps the most beautiful tropical 
country in the world, lies near the end of the Indian peninsula 
but a little to the east. At one point a chain of smaller islands 
and rocks said to have been built by Rama as a passage for his 
army of monkeys leads to the mainland. It is therefore natural 
that the population should have relations with southern India. 
Sinhalese art, religion and language show traces of Tamil influ 
ence but it is somewhat surprising to find that in these and in 
all departments of civilization the influence of northern India 
is stronger. The traditions which explain the connection of 
Ceylon with this distant region seem credible and the Sinhalese, 
who were often at war with the Tamils, were not disposed 
to imitate their usages, although juxtaposition and invasion 
brought about much involuntary resemblance. 

The school of Buddhism now professed in Ceylon, Burma 
and Siam is often called Sinhalese and (provided it is not implied 
that its doctrines originated in Ceylon) the epithet is correct. 
For the school ceased to exist in India and in the middle ages 
both Burma and Siam accepted the authority of the Sinhalese 
Sangha 1 . This Sinhalese school seems to be founded on the 
doctrines and scriptures accepted in the time of Asoka in 
Magadha and though the faith may have been codified and 
supplemented in its new home, I see no evidence that it under 
went much corruption or even development. One is inclined at 
first to think that the Hindus, having a continuous living 
tradition connecting them with Gotama who was himself a 
Hindu, were more likely than these distant islanders to pre 
serve the spirit of his teaching. But there is another side to 

1 E.g. Burma in the reign of Anawrata and later in the time of Chapata about 
1200, and Siam in the time of Suryavamsa Rama, 1361. On the other hand in 1752 
the Sinhalese succession was validated by obtaining monks from Burma. 

E. m. 2 


the question. The Hindus being addicted to theological and 
metaphysical studies produced original thinkers who, if not able 
to found new religions, at least modified what their predecessors 
had laid down. If certain old texts were held in too high esteem 
to be neglected, the ingenuity of the commentator rarely failed 
to reinterpret them as favourable to the views popular in his 
time. But the Sinhalese had not this passion for theology. So 
far as we can judge of them in earlier periods they were endowed 
with an amiable and receptive but somewhat indolent tempera 
ment, moderate gifts in art and literature and a moderate love 
and understanding of theology. Also their chiefs claimed to 
have come from northern India and were inclined to accept 
favourably anything which had the same origin. These are 
exactly the surroundings in which a religion can flourish without 
change for many centuries and Buddhism in Ceylon acquired 
stability because it also acquired a certain national and patriotic 
flavour : it was the faith of the Sinhalese and not of the invading 
Tamils. Such Sinhalese kings as had the power protected the 
Church and erected magnificent buildings for its service. 

If Sinhalese tradition may be believed, the first historical 
contact with northern India was the expedition of Vijaya, who 
with 700 followers settled in the island about the time of the 
Buddha s death. Many details of the story are obviously in 
vented. Thus in order to explain why Ceylon is called Sinhala, 
Vijaya is made the grandson of an Indian princess who lived 
with a lion. But though these legends inspire mistrust, it is a 
fact that the language of Ceylon in its earliest known form is 
a dialect closely connected with Pali (or rather with the spoken 
dialect from which ecclesiastical Pali was derived) and still 
more closely with the Maharashtri Prakrit of western India. It 
is not however a derivative of this Prakrit but parallel to it and 
in some words presents older forms 1 . It does not seem possible 
to ascribe the introduction of this language to the later mission 
of Mahinda, for, though Buddhist monks have in many countries 
influenced literature and the literary vocabulary, no instance is 
recorded of their changing the popular speech 2 . But Vijaya is 
said to have conquered Ceylon and to have slaughtered many 

1 Geiger, Literatur und Sprache der Singhalesen, p. 91. 

2 Compare the history of Khotan. The first Indian colonists seem to have 
introduced a Prakrit dialect. Buddhism and Sanskrit came afterwards. 

xxxv] CEYLON 13 

of its ancient inhabitants, called Yakkhas 1 , of whom we know 
little except that Sinhalese contains some un-Aryan words 
probably borrowed from them. According to the Dipavamsa 2 , 
Vijaya started from Bharukaccha or Broach and both language 
and such historical facts as we know confirm the tradition that 
some time before the third century B.C. Ceylon was conquered 
by Indian immigrants from the west coast. 

It would not be unreasonable to suppose that Vijaya intro 
duced into Ceylon the elements of Buddhism, but there is little 
evidence to indicate that it was a conspicuous form of religion 
in India in his time. Sinhalese tradition maintains that not only 
Gotama himself but also the three preceding Buddhas were 
miraculously transported to Ceylon and made arrangements for 
its conversion. Gotama is said to have paid no less than three 
visits 3 : all are obviously impossible and were invented to en 
hance the glory of the island. But the legends which relate how 
Panduvasudeva came from India to succeed Vijaya, how he 
subsequently had a Sakya princess brought over from India to 
be his wife and how her brothers established cities in Ceylon 4 , 
if not true in detail, are probably true in spirit in so far as they 
imply that the Sinhalese kept up intercourse with India and 
were familiar with the principal forms of Indian religion. Thus 
we are told 5 that King Pandukabhaya built religious edifices 
for Niganthas (Jains), Brahmans, Paribbajakas (possibly Budd 
hists) and Ajivikas. When Devanampiya Tissa ascended the 
throne (circ. 245 B.C.) he sent a complimentary mission bearing 
wonderful treasures to Asoka with whom he was on friendly 
terms, although they had never met. This implies that the 
kingdom of Magadha was known and respected in Ceylon, and 
we hear that the mission included a Brahman. The answer 
attributed to Asoka will surprise no one acquainted with the 
inscriptions of that pious monarch. He said that he had taken 

1 Literally demons, that is wild uncanny men. I refrain from discussing the 
origin and ethnological position of the Vaeddas for it hardly affects the history of 
Buddhism in Ceylon. For Vijaya s conquests see Mahavamsa vn. 

2 ix. 26. 

3 Dipavamsa i. 45-81, n. 1-69. Mahavamsa i. 19-83. The legend that the 
Buddha visited Ceylon and left his footprint on Adam s peak is at least as old as 
Buddhaghosa. See Samanta-pasadika in Oldenburg s Vinaya Pitaka, vol. m, p. 332 
and the quotations in Skeen s Adam s Peak, p. 50. 

4 Dipa, v. x. 1-9. Mahavamsa vm. 1-27, ix. 1-12. 

5 Mahavamsa x. 96, 102. 


refuge in the law of Buddha and advised the King of Ceylon to 
find salvation in the same way. He also sent magnificent 
presents consisting chiefly of royal insignia and Tissa was 
crowned for the second time, which probably means that he 
became not only the disciple but the vassal of Asoka. 

In any case the records declare that the Indian Emperor 
showed the greatest solicitude for the spiritual welfare of Ceylon 
and, though they are obviously embellished, there is no reason 
to doubt their substantial accuracy 1 . The Sinhalese tradition 
agrees on the whole with the data supplied by Indian inscrip 
tions and Chinese pilgrims. The names of missionaries mentioned 
in the Dipa and Mahavamsas recur on urns found at Sanchi 
and on its gateways are pictures in relief which appear to 
represent the transfer of a branch of the Bo-tree in solemn pro 
cession to some destination which, though unnamed, may be 
conjectured to be Ceylon 2 . The absence of Mahinda s name in 
Asoka s inscriptions is certainly suspicious, but the Sinhalese 
chronicles give the names of other missionaries correctly and 
a mere argumentum ex silentio cannot disprove their testimony 
on this important point. 

The principal repositories of Sinhalese tradition are the 
Dipavamsa, the Mahavamsa, and the historical preface of 
Buddhaghosa s Samanta-pasadika 3 . All later works are founded 
on these three, so far as concerns the conversion of Ceylon and 
the immediately subsequent period, and the three works appear 
to be rearrangements of a single source known as the Atthakatha, 
Sihalatthakatha, or the words of the Porana (ancients). These 
names were given to commentaries on the Tipitaka written in 
Sinhalese prose interspersed with Pali verse and several of the 
greater monasteries had their own editions of them, including 
a definite historical section 4 . It is probable that at the beginning 
of the fifth century A.D. and perhaps in the fourth century the 
old Sinhalese in which the prose parts of the Atthakatha were 

1 For the credibility of the Sinhalese traditions see Geiger introd. to translation 
of Mahavamsa 1912 and Norman in J.R.A.S. 1908, pp. 1 ff. and on the other side 
R. 0. Franke in W.Z.K.M, 21, pp. 203 ff., 317 ff. and Z.D.M.G. 63, pp. 540 ff. 

2 G runwedel, Buddhist art in India, pp. 69-72. Rhys Davids, Buddhist India, p. 302. 

3 The Jataka-nidana-katha is also closely allied to these works in those parts 
where the subject matter is the same. 

4 This section was probably called Mahavainsa in a general sense long before 
the name was specially applied to the work which now bears it. 

xxxv] CEYLON 15 

written was growing unintelligible, and that it was becoming 
more and more the fashion to use Pali as the language of ecclesi 
astical literature, for at least three writers set themselves to 
turn part of the traditions not into the vernacular but into Pali. 
The earliest and least artistic is the unknown author of the short 
chronicle called Dipavamsa, who wrote between 302 A.D. and 
430 A.D. 1 His work is weak both as a specimen of Pali and as 
a narrative and he probably did little but patch together the 
Pali verses occurring from time to time in the Sinhalese prose 
of the Atthakatha. Somewhat later, towards the end of the 
fifth century, a certain Mahanama arranged the materials out 
of which the Dipavamsa had been formed in a more consecutive 
and artistic form, combining ecclesiastical and popular legends 2 . 
His work, known as the Mahavamsa, does not end with the 
reign of Elara, like the Dipavamsa, but describes in 15 more 
chapters the exploits of Dutthagamani and his successors ending 
withMahasena 3 . The third writer, Buddhaghosa, apparently lived 
between the authors of the two chronicles. His voluminous literary 
activity will demand our attention later but so far as history is 
concerned his narrative is closely parallel to the Mahavamsa 4 . 

The historical narrative is similar in all three works. After 
the Council of Pataliputra, Moggaliputta, who had presided 
over it, came to the conclusion that the time had come to 
despatch missionaries to convert foreign countries. Sinhalese 
tradition represents this decision as emanating from Moggali 
putta whereas the inscriptions of Asoka imply that the king 
himself initiated the momentous project. But the difference is 
small. We cannot now tell to whom the great idea first occurred 
but it must have been carried out by the clergy with the 
assistance of Asoka, the apostle selected for Ceylon was his 5 

1 See introduction to Oldenburg s edition, pp. 8, 9. 

a Perhaps this is alluded to at the beginning of the Mahavamsa itself, "The 
book made by the ancients (porvanehi kato) was in some places too diffuse and in 
others too condensed and contained many repetitions." 

3 The Mahavanisa was continued by later writers and brought down to about 
1780 A.D. 

4 The Mahavanisatika, a commentary written between 1000 and 1250 A.D., has 
also some independent value because the old Atthakatha-Mahavamsa was still 
extant and used by the writer. 

6 Son according to the Sinhalese sources but according to Hsiian Chuang and 
others, younger brother. In favour of the latter it may be said that the younger 
brothers of kings often became monks in order to avoid political complications. 


near relative Mahinda who according to the traditions of the 
Sinhalese made his way to their island through the air with six 
companions. The account of Hsiian Chuang hints at a less 
miraculous mode of progression for he speaks of a monastery 
built by Mahinda somewhere near Tan j ore. 

The legend tells how Mahinda and his following alighted on 
the Missaka mountain 1 whither King Devanampiya Tissa had 
gone in the course of a hunt. The monks and the royal cortege 
met: Mahinda, after testing the king s intellectual capacity by 
some curious dialectical puzzles, had no difficulty in converting 
him 2 . Next morning he proceeded to Anuradhapura and was 
received with all honour and enthusiasm. He preached first in 
the palace and then to enthusiastic audiences of the general 
public. In these discourses he dwelt chiefly on the terrible 
punishment awaiting sinners in future existences 3 . 

We need not follow in detail the picturesque account of the 
rapid conversion of the capital. The king made over to the 
Church the Mahamegha garden and proceeded to construct a 
series of religious edifices in Anuradhapura and its neighbour 
hood. The catalogue of them is given in the Mahavamsa 4 and 
the most important was the Mahavihara monastery, which 
became specially famous and influential in the history of Bud 
dhism. It was situated in the Mahamegha garden close to the 
Bo-tree and was regarded as the citadel of orthodoxy. Its sub 
sequent conflicts with the later Abhayagiri monastery are the 
chief theme of Sinhalese ecclesiastical history and our version 
of the Pali Pitakas is the one which received its imprimatur. 

Tissa is represented as having sent two further missions to 
India. The first went in quest of relics and made its way not 
only to Pataliputra but to the court of Indra, king of the gods, 
and the relics obtained, of which the principal was the Buddha s 
alms-bowl 5 , were deposited in Anuradhapura. The king then 
built the Thuparama dagoba over them and there is no reason 

1 The modern Mahintale. 

2 The Mahavamsa implies that he had already some acquaintance with Bud 
dhism. It represents him as knowing that monks do not eat in the afternoon and 
as suggesting that it would be better to ordain the layman Bhandu. 

8 The chronicles give with some slight divergences the names of the texts on 
which his preaching was based. It is doubtless meant that he recited the Sutta 
with a running exposition. 

* Mahavam. xx. 17. 

5 Many other places claimed to possess this relic. 

xxxv] CEYLON 17 

to doubt that the building which now bears this name is genuine. 
The story may therefore be true to the extent that relics were 
brought from India at this early period. 

The second mission was despatched to bring a branch of the 
tree 1 under which the Buddha had sat when he obtained en 
lightenment. This narrative 2 is perhaps based on a more solid 
substratum of fact. The chronicles connect the event with the 
desire of the Princess Anula to become a nun. Women could 
receive ordination only from ordained nuns and as these were 
not to be found on the island it was decided to ask Asoka to 
send a branch of the sacred tree and also Mahinda s sister 
Sanghamitta, a religieuse of eminence. The mission was success 
ful. A branch from the Bo-tree was detached, conveyed by 
Asoka to the coast with much ceremony and received in Ceylon 
by Tissa with equal respect. The princess accompanied it. The 
Bo-tree was planted in the Meghavana garden. It may still be 
seen and attracts pilgrims not only from Ceylon but from 
Burma and Siam. Unlike the buildings of Anuradhapura it has 
never been entirely neglected and it is clear that it has been 
venerated as the Bo-tree from an early period of Sinhalese history. 
Botanists consider its long life, though remarkable, not impossible 
since trees of this species throw up fresh shoots from the roots near 
the parent stem. The sculptures at Sanchi represent a branch of 
a sacred tree being carried in procession, though no inscription at 
tests its destination, and Fa-Hsiensays that he saw the tree 3 . The 
author of the first part of the Mahavamsa clearly regards it as 
already ancient, and throughout the history of Ceylon there are 
references to the construction of railings and terraces to protect it. 

Devanampiya Tissa probably died in 207 B.C. In 177 the 
kingdom passed into the hands of Tamil monarchs who were 
not Buddhists, although the chroniclers praise their justice and 
the respect which they showed to the Church. The most im 
portant of them, Elara, reigned for forty-four years and was 
dethroned by a descendant of Tissa, called Dutthagamani 4 . 

1 Of course the antiquity of the Sinhalese Bo-tree is a different question from 
the identity of the parent tree with the tree under which the Buddha sat. 

2 Mahavam. xvm. ; Dipavam. xv. and xvi. 

8 But he says nothing about Mahinda or Sanghamitta and does not support the 
Mahavamsa in details. 

* Duttha, meaning bad, angry or violent, apparently refers to the ferocity 
shown in his struggle with the Tamils. 


The exploits of this prince are recorded at such length in 
the Mahavamsa (xxn.-xxxii.) as to suggest that they formed 
the subject of a separate popular epic, in which he figured as 
the champion of Sinhalese against the Tamils, and therefore as 
a devout Buddhist. On ascending the throne he felt, like 
Asoka, remorse for the bloodshed which had attended his early 
life and strove to atone for it by good works, especially the 
construction of sacred edifices. The most important of these 
were the Lohapasada or Copper Palace and the Mahathupa or 
Ruwanweli Dagoba. The former 1 was a monastery roofed or 
covered with copper plates. Its numerous rooms were richly 
decorated and it consisted of nine storeys, of which the four 
uppermost were set apart for Arhats, and the lower assigned to 
the inferior grades of monks. Perhaps the nine storeys are an 
exaggeration: at any rate the building suffered from fire and 
underwent numerous reconstructions and modifications. King 
Mahasena (301 A.D.) destroyed it and then repenting of his 
errors rebuilt it, but the ruins now representing it at Anurad- 
hapura, which consist of stone pillars only, date from the reign 
of Parakrama Bahu I (about A.D. 1150). The immense pile known 
as the Ruwanweli Dagoba, though often injured by invaders in 
search of treasure, still exists. The somewhat dilapidated ex 
terior is merely an outer shell, enclosing a smaller dagoba 2 . 
This is possibly the structure erected by Dutthagamani, though 
tradition says that there is a still smaller edifice inside. The 
foundation and building of the original structure are related at 
great length 3 . Crowds of distinguished monks came to see the 
first stone laid, even from Kashmir and Alasanda. Some have 
identified the latter name with Alexandria in Egypt, but it 
probably denotes a Greek city on the Indus 4 . But in any case 
tradition represents Buddhists from all parts of India as taking 
part in the ceremony and thus recognizing the unity of Indian 
and Sinhalese Buddhism. 

1 Dipavamsa xix. 1. Mahavamsa xxvu. 1-48. See Fergusson, Hist. Ind. 
Architecture, 1910, pp. 238, 246. I find it hard to picture such a building raised on 
pillars. Perhaps it was something like the Sat-mahal-prasada at Pollanarua. 

2 Parker, Ancient Ceylon, p. 282. The restoration of the Ruwanweli Dagoba was 
undertaken by Buddhists in 1873. 

8 Mahavamsa xxvm.-xxxi. Dutthagamani died before it was finished. 
4 Mahavamsa xxix. 37. Yonanagaralasanda. The town is also mentioned as 
situated on an Island in the Indus: Mil. Pan. in. 7. 4. 

xxxv] CEYLON 19 

Of great importance for the history of the Sinhalese Church 
is the reign of Vattagamani Abhaya who after being dethroned 
by Tamils recovered his kingdom and reigned for twelve years 1 . 
He built a new monastery and dagoba known as Abhayagiri 2 , 
which soon became the enemy of the Mahavihara and heterodox, 
if the latter is to be considered orthodox. The account of the 
schism given in the Mahavamsa 3 is obscure, but the dispute 
resulted in the Pitakas, which had hitherto been preserved 
orally, being committed to writing. The council which defined 
and edited the scriptures was not attended by all the monas 
teries of Ceylon, but only by the monks of the Mahavihara, and 
the text which they wrote down was their special version and 
not universally accepted. It included the Parivara, which was 
apparently a recent manual composed in Ceylon. The Maha 
vamsa says no more about this schism, but the Nikaya-Sangra- 
hawa 4 says that the monks of the Abhayagiri monastery now 
embraced the doctrines of the Vajjiputta school (one of the 
seventeen branches of the Mahasanghikas) which was known in 
Ceylon as the Dhammaruci school from an eminent teacher of 
that name. Many pious kings followed who built or repaired 
sacred edifices and Buddhism evidently flourished, but we also 
hear of heresy. In the third century A.D. 5 King Voharaka Tissa 
suppressed 6 the Vetulyas. This sect was connected with the 
Abhayagiri monastery, but, though it lasted until the twelfth 
century, I have found no Sinhalese account of its tenets. It is 
represented as the worst of heresies, which was suppressed by 

1 According to the common reckoning B.C. 88-76: according to Geiger B.C. 
29-17. It seems probable that in the early dates of Sinhalese history there is an 
error of about 62 years. See Geiger, Trans. Mahavamsa, pp. xxx ff. and Fleet, 
J.R.A.S. 1909, pp. 323-356. 

2 For the site see Parker s Ancient Ceylon, pp. 299 ff. The Mahavamsa (xxxm. 
79 and x. 98-100) says it was built on the site of an ancient Jain establishment 
and Kern thinks that this tradition hints at circumstances which account for the 
heretical and contentious spirit of the Abhaya monks. 

3 Mahav. xxxm. 100-104. See too the Tika quote by Tumour in his introduc 
tion, p. liii. 

4 A work on ecclesiastical history written about 1395. Ed. and Trans. Colombo 
Record Office. 

6 The probable error in Sinhalese dates mentioned in a previous note continues 
till the twelfth century A.D. though gradually decreasing. For the early centuries 
of the Christian era it is probable that the accepted dates should be put half a 
century later 

6 Mahavamsa xxxvi. 41. Vetulyavadam madditva. According to the Nikaya 
Sang, he burnt their Pitaka. 


all orthodox kings but again and again revived, or was re- 
introduced from India. Though it always found a footing 
at the Abhayagiri it was not officially recognized as the 
creed of that Monastery which since the time of Vattagamani 
seems to have professed the relatively orthodox doctrine called 

Mention is made in the Katha-vatthu of heretics who held 
that the Buddha remained in the Tusita heaven and that the 
law was preached on earth not by him but by Ananda and the 
commentary 1 ascribes these views to the Vetulyakas. The 
reticence of the Sinhalese chronicles makes it doubtful whether 
the Vetulyakas of Ceylon and these heretics are identical 
but probably the monks of the Abhayagiri, if not strictly 
speaking Mahayanist, were an off-shoot of an ancient sect 
which contained some germs of the Mahayana. Hsiian Chuang 
in his narrative 2 states (probably from hearsay) that the monks 
of the Mahavihara were Hinayanists but that both vehicles 
were studied at the Abhayagiri. I-Ching on the contrary says 
expressly that all the Sinhalese belonged to the Aryasthavira 
Nikaya. Fa-Hsien describes the Buddhism of Ceylon as he 
saw it about 412 A. D., but does not apply to it the terms Hina 
or Mahayana. He evidently regarded the Abhayagiri as the 
principal religious centre and says it had 5000 monks as against 
3000 in the Mahavihara, but though he dwells on the gorgeous 
ceremonial, the veneration of the sacred tooth, the representa 
tions of Gotama s previous lives, and the images of Maitreya, 
he does not allude to the worship of Avalokita and Mafijusri or 
to anything that can be called definitely Mahayanist. He 
describes a florid and somewhat superstitious worship which 
may have tended to regard the Buddha as superhuman, but the 
relics of Gotama s body were its chief visible symbols and we 
have no ground for assuming that such teaching as is found in 
the Lotus sutra was its theological basis. Yet we may legiti 
mately suspect that the traditions of the Abhayagiri remount 
to early prototypes of that teaching. 

In the second and third centuries the Court seems to have 
favoured the Mahavihara and King Gothabhaya banished 

1 On Katha-vat. xvm. 1 and 2. Printed in the Journal of the Pali Text Soc. for 

2 Watters, n. 234. Of. Hsiian Chuang s life, chap. iv. 

xxxv] CEYLON 21 

monks belonging to the Vetulya sect 1 , but in spite of this a 
monk of the Abhayagiri named Sanghamitta obtained his con 
fidence and that of his son, Mahasena, who occupied the throne 
from 275 to 302 A.D. The Mahavihara was destroyed and its 
occupants persecuted at Sanghamitta s instigation but he was 
murdered and after his death the great Monastery was rebuilt. 
The triumph however was not complete for Mahasena built a 
new monastery called Jetavana on ground belonging to the 
Mahavihara and asked the monks to abandon this portion of 
their territory. They refused and according to the Mahavamsa 
ultimately succeeded in proving their rights before a court of 
law. But the Jetavana remained as the headquarters of a sect 
known as Sagaliyas. They appear to have been moderately 
orthodox, but to have had their own text of the Vinaya for 
according to the Commentary 2 on the Mahavamsa they "separ 
ated the two Vibhangas of the Bhagava 3 from the Vinaya . . . 
altering their meaning and misquoting their contents." In 
the opinion of the Mahavihara both the Abhayagiri and Jeta 
vana were schismatical, but the laity appear to have given 
their respect and offerings to all three impartially and the 
Mahavamsa several times records how the same individual 
honoured the three Confraternities. 

With the death of Mahasena ends the first and oldest part 
of the Mahavamsa, and also in native opinion the grand period 
of Sinhalese history, the subsequent kings being known as the 
Culavamsa or minor dynasty. A continuation 4 of the chronicle 
takes up the story and tells of the doings of Mahasena s son 
Sirimeghavanna 5 . Judged by the standard of the Mahavihara, 
he was fairly satisfactory. He rebuilt the Lohapasada and 
caused a golden image of Mahinda to be made and carried in 

1 Mahavara. xxxvi. iii. ff. Gothabhaya s date was probably 302-315 and Maha 
sena s 325-352. The common chronology makes Gothabhaya reign from 244 to 
257 and Mahasena from 269 to 296 A.D. 

2 Quoted by Tumour, Introd. p. liii. The Mahavam. v. 13, expressly states 
that the Dhammaruci and Sagaliya sects originated in Ceylon. 

3 I.e. as I understand, the two divisions of the Sutta Vibhanga. 

4 It was written up to date at various periods. The chapters which take up the 
history after the death of Mahasena are said to be the work of Dhammakitti, who 
lived about 1250. 

5 He was a contemporary of the Gupta King Samudragupta who reigned approxi 
mately. 330-375 A.D. See S. Levi in J.A. 1900, pp. 316 ff, 401 ff. This synchronism 
is a striking confirmation of Fleet and Geiger s chronology. 


procession. This veneration of the founder of a local church re 
minds one of the respect shown to the images of half -deified 
abbots in Tibet, China and Japan. But the king did not neglect 
the Abhayagiri or assign it a lower position than the Mahavihara 
for he gave it partial custody of the celebrated relic known as 
the Buddha s tooth which was brought to Ceylon from Kalinga 
in the ninth year of his reign and has ever since been considered 
the palladium of the island. 

It may not be amiss to consider here briefly what is known 
of the history of the Buddha s relics and especially of this tooth. 
Of the minor distinctions between Buddhism and Hinduism one 
of the sharpest is this cultus. Hindu temples are often erected 
over natural objects supposed to resemble the footprint or some 
member of a deity and sometimes tombs receive veneration 1 . 
But no case appears to be known in which either Hindus or 
Jains show reverence to the bones or other fragments of a human 
body. It is hence remarkable that relic-worship should be so 
wide -spread in Buddhism and appear so early in its history. 
The earliest Buddhist monuments depict figures worshipping at 
a stupa, which was probably a reliquary, and there is no reason 
to distrust the traditions which carry the practice back at 
least to the reign of Asoka. The principal cause for its prevalence 
was no doubt that Buddhism, while creating a powerful religious 
current, provided hardly any objects of worship for the faithful 2 . 
It is also probable that the rudiments of relic worship existed 
in the districts frequented by the Buddha. The account of his 
death states that after the cremation of his body the Mallas 
placed his bones in their council hall and honoured them with 
songs and dances. Then eight communities or individuals de 
manded a portion of the relics and over each portion a cairn 
was built. These proceedings are mentioned as if they were the 
usual ceremonial observed on the death of a great man and in 

1 E.g. the tomb of Ramanuja at Srirangam. 

2 For a somewhat similar reason the veneration of relics is prevalent among 
Moslims. Islam indeed provides an object of worship but its ceremonies are so 
austere and monotonous that any devotional practices which are not forbidden as 
idolatrous are welcome to the devout. 

xxxv] CEYLON 23 

the same Sutta 1 the Buddha himself mentions four classes of 
men worthy of a cairn or dagoba 2 . We may perhaps conclude 
that in the earliest ages of Buddhism it was usual in north 
eastern India to honour the bones of a distinguished man after 
cremation and inter them under a monument. This is not 
exactly relic worship but it has in it the root of the later tree. 
The Pitakas contain little about the practice but the Milinda 
Panha discusses the question at length and in one passage 3 
endeavours to reconcile two sayings of the Buddha, "Hinder 
not yourselves by honouring the remains of the Tathagatha" 
and "Honour that relic of him who is worthy of honour." It is 
the first utterance rather than the second that seems to have 
the genuine ring of Gotama. 

The earliest known relics are those discovered in the stupa 
of Piprava on the borders of Nepal in 1898. Their precise nature 
and the date of the inscription describing them have been the 
subject of much discussion. Some authorities think that this 
stupa may be one of those erected over a portion of the Buddha s 
ashes after his funeral. Even Barth, a most cautious and 
sceptical scholar, admitted 4 first that the inscription is not 
later than Asoka, secondly that the vase is a reliquary con 
taining what were believed to be bones of the Buddha. Thus in 
the time of Asoka the worship of the Buddha s relics was well 
known and I see no reason why the inscription should not be 
anterior to that time. 

According to Buddhaghosa s Sumangalavildsini and Sin 
halese texts which though late are based on early material 5 , 
Mahakassapa instigated Ajatasattu to collect the relics of the 
Buddha, and to place them in a stupa, there to await the 
advent of Asoka. In Asoka s time the stupa had become over 
grown and hidden by jungle but when the king was in search of 
relics, its position was revealed to him. He found inside it an 
inscription authorizing him to disperse the contents and pro- 

1 Dig. Nik. xvi. v. 27. 

2 Plutarch mentions a story that the relics of King Menander were similarly 
divided into eight portions but the story may be merely a replica of the obsequies 
of the Buddha. 

3 iv. 3, 24. The first text is from Mahaparinibbana Sutta, v. 24. The second has 
not been identified. 

4 Journal des Savants, Oct. 1906. 

6 See Norman, " Buddhist legends of Asoka and his times," in J.A.8. Beng. 1910. 


ceeded to distribute them among the 84,000 monasteries which 
he is said to have constructed. 

In its main outlines this account is probable. Ajatasattu 
conquered the Licchavis and other small states to the north of 
Magadha and if he was convinced of the importance of the 
Buddha s relics it would be natural that he should transport 
them to his capital, regarding them perhaps as talismans 1 . 
Here they were neglected, though not damaged, in the reigns 
of Brahmanical kings and were rescued from oblivion by Asoka, 
who being sovereign of all India and anxious to spread Buddhism 
throughout his dominions would be likely to distribute the 
relics as widely as he distributed his pillars and inscriptions. 
But later Buddhist kings could not emulate this imperial im 
partiality and we may surmise that such a monarch as Kanishka 
would see to it that all the principal relics in northern India 
found their way to his capital. The bones discovered at Pesha 
war are doubtless those considered most authentic in his reign. 

Next to the tooth, the most interesting relic of the Buddha 
was his patra or alms-bowl, which plays a part somewhat similar 
to that of the Holy Grail in Christian romance. The Mahavamsa 
states that Asoka sent it to Ceylon, but the Chinese pilgrim 
Fa-Hsien 2 saw it at Peshawar about 405 A.D. It was shown to 
the people daily at the midday and evening services. The pilgrim 
thought it contained about two pecks yet such were its miracu 
lous properties that the poor could fill it with a gift of a few 
flowers, whereas the rich cast in myriads of bushels and found 
there was still room for more. A few years later Fa-Hsien 
heard a sermon in Ceylon 3 in which the preacher predicted that 
the bowl would be taken in the course of centuries to Central 
Asia, China, Ceylon and Central India whence it would ulti 
mately ascend to the Tusita heaven for the use of the future 
Buddha. Later accounts to some extent record the fulfilment 
of these predictions inasmuch as they relate how the bowl (or 
bowls) passed from land to land but the story of its wandering 
may have little foundation since it is combined with the idea 
that it is wafted from shrine to shrine according as the faith is 
flourishing or decadent. Hsiian Chuang says that it "had gone 

1 Just as the Tooth was considered to be the palladium of Sinhalese kings. 

2 Record of Buddhist kingdoms. Legge, pp. 34, 35. Fa-Hsien speaks of the 
country not the town of Peshawar (Purushapura). 

8 Ibid. p. 109. Fa-Hsien does not indicate that at this time there was a rival 
bowl in Ceylon but represents the preacher as saying it was then in Gandhara. 

xxxv] CEYLON 25 

on from Peshawar to several countries and was now in Persia 1 ." 
A Mohammedan legend relates that it is at Kandahar and will 
contain any quantity of liquid without overflowing. Marco 
Polo says Kublai Khan sent an embassy in 1284 to bring it 
from Ceylon to China 2 . 

The wanderings of the tooth, though almost as surprising 
as those of the bowl, rest on better historical evidence, but 
there is probably more continuity in the story than in the holy 
object of which it is related, for the piece of bone which is 
credited with being the left canine tooth of the Blessed One 
may have been changed on more than one occasion. The Sin 
halese chronicles 3 , as mentioned, say that it was brought to 
Ceylon in the ninth year of Sirimeghavanna 4 . This date may be 
approximately correct for about 413 or later Fa-Hsien described 
the annual festival of the tooth, during which it was exposed 
for veneration at the Abhayagiri monastery, without indicating 
that the usage was recent. 

The tooth did not, according to Sinhalese tradition, form 
part of the relics distributed after the cremation of the Buddha. 
Seven bones, including four teeth 5 , were excepted from that 
distribution and the Sage Khema taking the left canine tooth 
direct from the funeral pyre gave it to the king of Kalinga, who 
enshrined it in a gorgeous temple at Dantapura 6 where it is 
supposed to have remained 800 years. At the end of that period 

1 Waiters, i. pp. 202, 203. But the life of Hsiian Chuang says Benares not 

2 Marco Polo trans. Yule, n. pp. 320, 330. 

3 For the history of the tooth see Mahdmmsa, p. 241, in Tumour s edition: the 
Dathavamsa in Pali written by Dhammakitti in 1211 A.D. : and the Sinhalese 
poems Daladapujavali and Dhatuvansaya. See also Da Cunha, Memoir on the 
History of the Tooth Relic of Ceylon, 1875, and Yule s notes on Marco Polo, n. 
pp. 328-330. 

4 I.e. about 361 or 310, according to which chronology is adopted, but neither 
Fa-Hsien or Hsiian Chuang says anything about its arrival from India and this 
part of the story might be dismissed as a legend. But seeing how extraordinary 
were the adventures of the tooth in historical times, it would be unreasonable to 
deny that it may have been smuggled out of India for safety. 

6 Various accounts are given of the disposal of these teeth, but more than enough 
relics were preserved in various shrines to account for all. Hsiian Chuang saw or 
heard of sacred teeth in Balkh, Nagar, Kashmir, Kanauj and Ceylon. Another 
tooth is said to be kept near Foo-chow. 

6 Plausibly supposed to be Puri. The ceremonies still observed in the temple of 
Jagannath are suspected of being based on Buddhist rites. Dantapura of theKalingas 
is however mentioned in some verses quoted in Digha Nikaya xix. 36. This looks 
as if the name might be pre-Buddhist. 


a pious king named Guhasiva became involved in disastrous 
wars on account of the relic, and, as the best means of pre 
serving it, bade his daughter fly with her husband 1 and take it 
to Ceylon. This, after some miraculous adventures, they were 
able to do. The tooth was received with great ceremony and 
lodged in an edifice called the Dhammacakka from which it 
was taken every year for a temporary sojourn 2 in the Abhaya- 
giri monastery. 

The cultus of the tooth flourished exceedingly in the next 
few centuries and it came to be regarded as the talisman of the 
king and nation. Hence when the court moved from Anura- 
dhapura to Pollunaruwa it was installed in the new capital. In 
the troubled times which followed it changed its residence some 
fifteen times. Early in the fourteenth century it was carried off 
by the Tamils to southern India but was recovered by Parakrama 
Bahu III and during the commotion created by the invasions 
of the Tamils, Chinese and Portuguese it was hidden in various 
cities. In 1560 Dom Constantino de Bragan9a, Portuguese 
Viceroy of Goa, led a crusade against Jaffna to avenge the 
alleged persecution of Christians, and when the town was 
sacked a relic, described as the tooth of an ape mounted in 
gold, was found in a temple and carried off to Goa. On this 
Bayin Naung, King of Pegu, offered an enormous ransom to 
redeem it, which the secular government wished to accept, but 
the clergy and inquisition put such pressure on the Viceroy 
that he rejected the proposal. The archbishop of Goa pounded 
the tooth in a mortar before the viceregal court, burned the 
fragments and scattered the ashes over the sea 3 . 

But the singular result of this bigotry was not to destroy 
one sacred tooth but to create two. The king of Pegu, who 
wished to marry a Sinhalese princess, sent an embassy to Ceylon 
to arrange the match. They were received by the king of Cotta, 
who bore the curiously combined name of Don Juan Dharma- 
pala. He had no daughter of his own but palmed off the daugh 
ter of a chamberlain. At the same time he informed the king 

1 They are called Ranmali and Danta in the Rajavaliya. 

2 There is a striking similarity between this rite and the ceremonies observed at 
Puri, where the images of Jagannatha and his relatives are conveyed every summer 
with great pomp to a country residence where they remain during some weeks. 

3 See Tennent s Ceylon, vol. n. pp. 29, 30 and 199 ff. and the Portuguese 
uthorities quoted. 

xxxv] CEYLON 27 

of Pegu that the tooth destroyed at Goa was not the real relic 
and that this still remained in his possession. Bayin Naung was 
induced to marry the lady and received the tooth with appro 
priate ceremonies. But when the king of Kandy heard of these 
doings, he apprized the king of Pegu of the double trick that 
had been played on him. He offered him his own daughter, a 
veritable princess, in marriage and as her dowry the true tooth 
which, he said, was neither that destroyed at Goa nor yet that 
sent to Pegu, but one in his own possession. Bayin Naung 
received the Kandyan embassy politely but rejected its pro 
posals, thinking no doubt that it would be awkward to declare 
the first tooth spurious after it had been solemnly installed as 
a sacred relic. The second tooth therefore remained in Kandy 
and appears to be that now venerated there. When Vimala 
Dharma re-established the original line of kings, about 1592, 
it was accepted as authentic. 

As to its authenticity, it appears to be beyond doubt that 
it is a piece of discoloured bone about two inches long, which 
could never have been the tooth of an ordinary human being, 
so that even the faithful can only contend that the Buddha 
was of superhuman stature. Whether it is the relic which was 
venerated in Ceylon before the arrival of the Portuguese is a 
more difficult question, for it may be argued with equal plausi 
bility that the Sinhalese had good reasons for hiding the real 
tooth and good reasons for duplicating it. The strongest argu 
ment against the authenticity of the relic destroyed by the 
Portuguese is that it was found in Jaffna, which had long been 
a Tamil town, whereas there is no reason to believe that the 
real tooth was at this time in Tamil custody. But, although the 
native literature always speaks of it as unique, the Sinhalese 
appear to have produced replicas more than once, for we hear 
of such being sent to Burma and China 1 . Again, the offer to 
ransom the tooth came not from Ceylon but from the king of 
Pegu, who, as the sequel shows, was gullible in such matters: 
the Portuguese clearly thought that they had acquired a relic 
of primary importance; on any hypothesis one of the kings of 
Ceylon must have deceived the king of Pegu, and finally Vimala 
Dharma had the strongest political reasons for accepting as 

1 Fortune in Two Visits to Tea Countries of China, vol. n. pp. 107-8, describes 
one of these teeth preserved in the Ku-shan monastery near Foo-chow. 

E. m. 3 


genuine the relic kept at Kandy, since the possession of the true 
tooth went far to substantiate a Sinhalese monarch s right to 
the throne. 

The tooth is now preserved in a temple at Kandy. The visitor 
looking through a screen of bars can see on a silver table a 
large jewelled case shaped like a bell. Flowers scattered on the 
floor or piled on other tables fill the chamber with their heavy 
perfume. Inside the bell are six other bells of diminishing size, 
the innermost of which covers a golden lotus containing the 
sacred tooth. But it is only on rare occasions that the outer 
caskets are removed. Worshippers as a rule have to content 
themselves with offering flowers 1 and bowing but I was informed 
that the priests celebrate puja daily before the relic. The cere 
mony comprises the consecration and distribution of rice and 
is interesting as connecting the veneration of the tooth with 
the ritual observed in Hindu temples. But we must return to 
the general history of Buddhism in Ceylon. 

The kings who ruled in the fifth century were devout Bud 
dhists and builders of viharas but the most important event of 
this period, not merely for the island but for the whole Buddhist 
church in the south, was the literary activity of Buddhaghosa 
who is said to have resided in Ceylon during the reign of 
Mahanama. The chief authorities for his life are a passage in 
the continuation of the Mahavamsa 2 and the Buddhaghosup- 
patti, a late Burmese text of about 1550, which, while adding 
many anecdotes, appears not to come from an independent 
source 3 . The gist of their account is that he was born in a Brah 
man family near Gaya and early obtained renown as a disputant. 
He was converted to Buddhism by a monk named Revata and 
began to write theological treatises 4 . Revata observing his 

1 This practice must be very old. The Vinaya of the Mulasarvastivadins and 
similar texts speak of offering flowers to a tooth of the Buddha. See J.A. 1914, n. 
pp. 523, 543. The Pali Canon too tells us that the relics of the Buddha were honoured 
with garlands and perfumes. 

2 Chap, xxxvn. 

3 Both probably represent the tradition current at the Mahavihara, but accord 
ing to the Talaing tradition Buddhaghosa was a Brahman born at Thaton. 

4 The Mahavamsa says he composed the Jnanodaya and Atthasalini at this 
time before starting for Ceylon. 

xxxv] CEYLON 29 

intention to compose a commentary on the Pitakas, told him 
that only the text (palimattam) of the scriptures was to be 
found in India, not the ancient commentaries, but that the Sin 
halese commentaries were genuine, having been composed in 
that language by Mahinda. He therefore bade Buddhaghosa 
repair to Ceylon and translate these Sinhalese works into the 
idiom of Magadha, by which Pali must be meant. Buddha 
ghosa took this advice and there is no reason to distrust the 
statement of the Mahavamsa that he arrived in the reign of 
Mahanama, who ruled according to Geiger from 458 to 480, 
though the usual reckoning places him about fifty years earlier. 
The fact that Fa-Hsien, who visited Ceylon about 412, does not 
mention Buddhaghosa is in favour of Geiger s chronology 1 . 

He first studied in the Mahavihara and eventually requested 
permission to translate the Sinhalese commentaries. To prove 
his competence for the task he composed the celebrated Visud- 
dhi-magga, and, this being considered satisfactory, he took up 
his residence in the Ganthakara Vihara and proceeded to the 
work of translation. When it was finished he returned to India 
or according to the Talaing tradition to Thaton. The Buddha- 
ghosuppatti adds two stories of which the truth and meaning 
are equally doubtful. They are that Buddhaghosa burnt the 
works written by Mahinda and that his knowledge of Sanskrit 
was called in question but triumphantly proved. Can there be 
here any allusion to a Sanskrit canon supported by the oppo 
nents of the Mahavihara? 

Even in its main outline the story is not very coherent for 
one would imagine that, if a Buddhist from Magadha went to 
Ceylon to translate the Sinhalese commentaries, his object 
must have been to introduce them among Indian Buddhists. 
But there is no evidence that Buddhaghosa did this and he is 
for us simply a great figure in the literary and religious history 
of Ceylon. Burmese tradition maintains that he was a native 
of Thaton and returned thither, when his labours in Ceylon 
were completed, to spread the scriptures in his native language. 
This version of his activity is intelligible, though the evidence 
for it is weak. 

1 Fa-Hsien is chary of mentioning contemporary celebrities but he refers to a 
well-known monk called Ta-mo-kiu-ti (? Dhammakathi) and had Buddhaghosa 
been already celebrated he would hardly have omitted him. 


He composed a great corpus of exegetical literature which 
has been preserved, but, since much of it is still unedited, the 
precise extent of his labours is uncertain. There is however little 
doubt of the authenticity of his commentaries on the four great 
Nikayas, on the Abhidhamma and on the Vinaya (called 
Samanta-pasadika) and in them 1 he refers to the Visuddhi- 
magga as his own work. He says expressly that his explanations 
are founded on Sinhalese materials, which he frequently cites 
as the opinion of the ancients (porana). By this word he prob 
ably means traditions recorded in Sinhalese and attributed to 
Mahinda, but it is in any case clear that the works which he 
consulted were considered old in the fifth century A.D. Some 
of their names are preserved in the Samanta-pasadika where 
he mentions the great commentary (Maha-Atthakatha), the 
Raft commentary (Paccari, so called because written on a raft), 
the Kurundi commentary composed at Kurunda-Velu and 
others 2 . All this literature has disappeared and we can only 
judge of it by Buddhaghosa s reproduction which is probably 
not a translation but a selection and rearrangement. Indeed 
his occasional direct quotations from the ancients or from an 
Atthakatha imply that the rest of the work is merely based on 
the Sinhalese commentaries. 

Buddhaghosa was not an independent thinker but he makes 
amends for his want of originality not only by his industry and 
learning but by his power of grasping and expounding the 
whole of an intricate subject. His Visuddhi-magga has not yet 
been edited in Europe, but the extracts and copious analysis 3 
which have been published indicate that it is a comprehensive 
restatement of Buddhist doctrine made with as free a hand as 
orthodoxy permitted. The Mahavamsa observes that the 
Theras held his works in the same estimation as the Pitakas. 
They are in no way coloured by the Mahayanist tenets which 
were already prevalent in India, but state in its severest form 
the Hinayanist creed, of which he is the most authoritative 
exponent. The Visuddhi-magga is divided into three parts 
treating of conduct (silam), meditation (samadhi) and knowledge 

1 In the Corns, on the Digha and Dhammasangani. 

3 See Rhys Davids and Carpenter s introduction to Sumangalavi, i. p. x. 

1 In the Journal of Pali Text Soc. 1891, pp. 76-164. Since the above was written 
the first volume of the text of the Visuddhi magga, edited by Mrs Rhys Davids, 
has been published by the Pali Text Society, 1920. 

xxxv] CEYLON 31 

(paiina), the first being the necessary substratum for the 
religious life of which the others are the two principal branches. 
But though he intersperses his exposition with miraculous stories 
and treats exhaustively of superhuman powers, no trace of the 
worship of Mahay anist Bodhisattvas is found in his works and, 
as for literature, he himself is the chief authority for the genu 
ineness and completeness of the Pali Canon as we know it. 

When we find it said that his works were esteemed as highly 
as the Pitakas, or that the documents which he translated into 
Pali were the words of the Buddha 1 , the suspicion naturally 
arises that the Pali Canon may be in part his composition and 
it may be well to review briefly its history in Ceylon. Our 
knowledge appears to be derived entirely from the traditions 
of the Mahavihara which represent Mahindq, as teaching the 
text of the Pitakas orally, accompanied by a commentary. If 
we admit the general truth of the narrative concerning Ma- 
hinda s mission, there is nothing improbable in these state 
ments, for it would be natural that an Indian teacher should 
know by heart his sacred texts and the commentaries on them. 
We cannot of course assume that the Pitakas of Mahinda were 
the Pali Canon as we know it, but the inscriptions of Asoka 
refer to passages which can be found in that canon and therefore 
parts of it at any rate must have been accepted as scripture in 
the third century B.C. But it is probable that considerable 
variation was permitted in the text, although the sense and a 
certain terminology were carefully guarded. It was not till 
the reign of Vattagamani, probably about 20 B.C., that the canon 
was committed to writing and the Parivara, composed in 
Ceylon 2 , was included in it. 

In the reign of Buddhadasa 3 a learned monk named Maha- 
dhammakathi is said to have translated the Suttas into Sinhalese, 
which at this time was esteemed the proper language for letters 
and theology, but in the next century a contrary tendency, 
probably initiated by Buddhaghosa, becomes apparent and Sin 
halese works are rewritten in Pali 4 . But nothing indicates that 

1 Bhagavato Sasanam. See Buddhaghosuppatti, cap. I. 

2 It appears to be unknown to the Chinese Tripitaka. For some further remarks 
on the Sinhalese Canon see Book in. chap. xin. 3. 

3 That is according to Geiger 386-416 A.D. Perhaps he was the Ta-mo-kiu-ti 
mentioned by Fa-Hsien. 

4 The tendency seems odd but it can be paralleled in India where it is not 
uncommon to rewrite vernacular works in Sanskrit. See Grierson, J.R.A.S. 1913, 


any part of what we call the Pali Canon underwent this process. 
Buddhaghosa distinguishes clearly between text and comment, 
between Pali and Sinhalese documents. He has a coherent 
history of the text, beginning with the Council of Rajagaha; 
he discusses various readings, he explains difficult words. He 
treated the ancient commentaries with freedom, but there is no 
reason to think that he allowed himself any discretion or right 
of selection in dealing with the sacred texts accepted by the 
Mahavihara, though it might be prudent to await the publica 
tion of his commentaries on all the Nikayas before asserting 
this unreservedly. 

To sum up, the available evidence points to the conclusion 
that in the time of Asoka texts and commentaries preserved 
orally were brought to Ceylon. The former, though in a some 
what fluid condition, were sufficiently sacred to be kept un 
changed in the original Indian language, the latter were trans 
lated into the kindred but still distinct vernacular of the island. 
In the next century and a half some additions to the Pali texts 
were made and about 20 B.C. the Mahavihara, which proved as 
superior to the other communities in vitality as it was in 
antiquity, caused written copies to be made of what it considered 
as the canon, including some recent works. There is no evidence 
that Buddhaghosa or anyone else enlarged or curtailed the 
canon, but the curious tradition that he collected and burned 
all the books written by Mahinda in Sinhalese 1 may allude to 
the existence of other works which he (presumably in agreement 
with the Mahavihara) considered spurious. 

Soon after the departure of Buddhaghosa Dhatusena came 
to the throne and "held like Dhammasoka a convocation about 
the three Pitakas 2 ." This implies that there was still some 
doubt as to what was scripture and that the canon of the 
Mahavihara was not universally accepted. The Vetulyas, of 

p. 133. Even in England in the seventeenth century Bacon seems to have been 
doubtful of the immortality of his works in English and prepared a Latin translation 
of his Essays. 

1 It is reported with some emphasis as the tradition of the Ancients in Buddha - 
ghosuppatti, cap. vn. If the works were merely those which Buddhaghosa himself 
had translated the procedure seems somewhat drastic. 

2 Mahav. xxxin. Dhammasokova so kasi Pitakattaye Sarigahan. Dhatusena 
reigned from 459-477 according to the common chronology or 509-527 according 
to Geiger. 

xxxv] CEYLON 33 

whom we heard in the third century A.D., reappear in the 
seventh when they are said to have been supported by a pro 
vincial governor but not by the king Aggabodhi 1 and still 
more explicitly in the reign of Parakrama Bahu (c. 1160). He 
endeavoured to reconcile to the Mahavihara "the Abhayagiri 
brethren who separated themselves from the time of king 
Vattagamani Abhaya and the Jetavana brethren that had 
parted since the days of Mahasena and taught the Vetulla 
Pitaka and other writings as the words of Buddha, which indeed 
were not the words of Buddha 2 ." So it appears that another 
recension of the canon was in existence for many centuries. 

Dhatusena, though depicted in the Mahavamsa as a most 
orthodox monarch, embellished the Abhayagiri monastery and 
was addicted to sumptuous ceremonies in honour of images and 
relics. Thus he made an image of Mahinda, dedicated a shrine 
and statue to Metteyya and ornamented the effigies of Buddha 
with the royal jewels. In an image chamber (apparently at the 
Abhayagiri) he set up figures of Bodhisattvas 3 , by which we 
should perhaps understand the previous births of Gotama. He 
was killed by his son and Sinhalese history degenerated into a 
complicated story of crime and discord, in which the weaker 
faction generally sought the aid of the Tamils. These latter 
became more and more powerful and with their advance Bud 
dhism tended to give place to Hinduism. In the eighth century 
the court removed from Anuradhapura to Pollannaruwa, in 
order to escape from the pressure of the Tamils, but the picture 
of anarchy and decadence grows more and more gloomy until 
the accession of Vijaya Bahu in 1071 who succeeded in making 
himself king of all Ceylon. Though he recovered Anuradhapura 
it was not made the royal residence either by himself or by his 
greater successor, Parakrama Bahu 4 . This monarch, the most 
eminent in the long list of Ceylon s sovereigns, after he had 
consolidated his power, devoted himself, in the words of Tennent, 
"to the two grand objects of royal solicitude, religion and 
agriculture." He was lavish in building monasteries, temples 
and libraries, but not less generous in constructing or repairing 

1 Mahav. XLII. 35 ff. 

2 Mahav. LXXVHI. 21-23. 

8 Mahav. xxxvm. Akasi patimagehe bahumangalacetiye boddhisatte ca 
tathasun. Cf. Fa-Hsien, chap. xxvm. ad fin. 
4 Or Parakkama Bahu. Probably 1153-1186. 


tanks and works of irrigation. In the reign of Vijaya Bahu 
hardly any duly ordained monks were to be found 1 , the succes 
sion having been interrupted, and the deficiency was supplied 
by bringing qualified Theras from Burma. But by the time of 
Parakrama Bahu the old quarrels of the monasteries revived, 
and, as he was anxious to secure unity, he summoned a synod 
at Anuradhapura. It appears to have attained its object by 
recognizing the Mahavihara as the standard of orthodoxy and 
dealing summarily with dissentients 2 . The secular side of mon 
astic life also received liberal attention. Lands, revenues and 
guest-houses were provided for the monasteries as well as 
hospitals. As in Burma and Siam Brahmans were respected and 
the king erected a building for their use in the capital. Like 
Asoka, he forbade the killing of animals. 

But the glory of Parakrama Bahu stands up in the later 
history of Ceylon like an isolated peak and thirty years after 
his death the country had fallen almost to its previous low level 
of prosperity. The Tamils again occupied many districts and were 
never entirely dislodged as long as the Sinhalese kingdom 
lasted. Buddhism tended to decline but was always the religion 
of the national party and was honoured with as much magnifi 
cence as their means allowed. Parakrama Bahu II (c. 1240), 
who recovered the sacred tooth from the Tamils, is said to have 
celebrated splendid festivals and to have imported learned 
monks from the country of the Colas 3 . Towards the end of the 
fifteenth century the inscriptions of Kalyani indicate that Sin 
halese religion enjoyed a great reputation in Burma 4 . 

A further change adverse to Buddhism was occasioned by 
the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505. A long and horrible 
struggle ensued between them and the various kings among 
whom the distracted island was divided until at the end of the 
sixteenth century only Kandy remained independent, the whole 
coast being in the hands of the Portuguese. The singular bar 
barities which they perpetrated throughout this struggle are 
vouched for by their own historians 5 , but it does not appear 

Mahavamsa LX. 4-7. 
Mahavamsa LXXVIII. 21-27. 

Mahav. LXXXIV. If this means the region of Madras, the obvious question is 
what learned Buddhist can there have been there at this period. 
J. Ant. 1893, pp. 40, 41. 
I take this statement from Tennent who gives references. 

xxxv] CEYLON 35 

that the Sinhalese degraded themselves by similar atrocities. 
Since the Portuguese wished to propagate Roman Catholicism 
as well as to extend their political rule and used for this purpose 
(according to the Mahavamsa) the persuasions of gold as well aa 
the terrors of torture, it is not surprising if many Sinhalese pro 
fessed allegiance to Christianity, but when in 1597 the greater 
part of Ceylon formally accepted Portuguese sovereignty, the 
chiefs insisted that they should be allowed to retain their own 
religion and customs. 

The Dutch first appeared in 1602 and were welcomed by the 
Court of Kandy as allies capable of expelh ng the Portuguese. 
This they succeeded in doing by a series of victories between 
1638 and 1658, and remained masters of a great part of the island 
until their possessions were taken by the British in 1795. 
Kandy however continued independent until 1815. At first the 
Dutch tried to enforce Christianity and to prohibit Buddhism 
within their territory 1 but ultimately hatred of the Roman 
Catholic church made them favourable to Buddhism and they 
were ready to assist those kings who desired to restore the 
national religion to its former splendour. 

In spite of this assistance the centuries when the Sinhalese 
were contending with Europeans were not a prosperous time 
for Buddhism. Hinduism spread in the north 2 , Christianity in 
the coast belt, but still it was a point of honour with most 
native sovereigns to protect the national religion so far as their 
distressed condition allowed. For the seventeenth century we 
have an interesting account of the state of the country called 
An Historical Relation of the Island of Ceylon by an Englishman, 
Robert Knox, who was detained by the king of Kandy from 
1660 to 1680. He does not seem to have been aware that there 
was any distinction between Buddhism and Hinduism. Though 
he describes the Sinhalese as idolaters, he also emphasizes the 
fact that Buddou (as he writes the name) is the God "unto 
whom the salvation of souls belongs," and for whom "above all 
others they have a high respect and devotion." He also describes 

1 See Ceylon Antiquary, i. 3, pp. 148, 197. 

2 Rajasinha I (1581) is said to have made Sivaism the Court religion. 


the ceremonies of pirit and bana, the perahera procession, and 
two classes of Buddhist monks, the elders and the ordinary 
members of the Sangha. His narrative indicates that Buddhism 
was accepted as the higher religion, though men were prone to 
pray to deities who would save from temporal danger. 

About this time Vimala Dharma II 1 made great efforts to 
improve the religious condition of the island and finding that 
the true succession had again failed, arranged with the Dutch 
to send an embassy to Arakan and bring back qualified Theras. 
But apparently the steps taken were not sufficient, for when 
king Kittisiri Rajasiha (1747-81), whose piety forms the theme 
of the last two chapters of the Mahavamsa, set about reforming 
the Sangha, he found that duly ordained monks were extinct 
and that many so-called monks had families. He therefore 
decided to apply to Dhammika, king of Ayuthia in Siam, and 
like his predecessor despatched an embassy on a Dutch ship. 
Dhammika sent back a company of "more than ten monks" 
(that is more than sufficient for the performance of all ecclesi 
astical acts) under the Abbot Upali in 1752 and another to 
relieve it in 1755 2 . They were received by the king of Ceylon with 
great honour and subsequently by the ordination which they 
conferred placed the succession beyond dispute. But the order 
thus reconstituted was aristocratic and exclusive : only members 
of the highest caste were admitted to it and the wealthy middle 
classes found themselves excluded from a community which 
they were expected to honour and maintain. This led to the 
despatch of an embassy to Burma in 1802 and to the foundation 
of another branch of the Sangha, known as the Amarapura 
school, distinct in so far as its validity depended on Burmese 
not Siamese ordination. 

Since ordination is for Buddhists merely self -dedication to a 
higher life and does not confer any sacramental or sacerdotal 

1 His reign is dated as 1679-1701, also as 1687-1706. It is remarkable that the 
Mahavamsa makes both the kings called Vimala Dharma send religious embassies 
to Arakan. See xciv. 15, 16 and xcvn. 10, 11. 

2 See for some details Lorgeou: Notice sur un Manuscrit Siamois contenant la 
relation de deux missions religieuses envoyees de Siam a Ceylon au milieu du xviii 
Siecle. Jour. AsiaL 1906, pp. 533 ff. The king called Dhammika by the Mahavamsa 
appears to have been known as Phra Song Tham in Siam. The interest felt by the 
Siamese in Ceylon at this period is shown by the Siamese translation of the Maha 
vamsa made in 1796. 

xxxv] CEYLON 37 

powers, the importance assigned to it may seem strange. But 
the idea goes back to the oldest records in the Vinaya and has 
its root in the privileges accorded to the order. A Bhikkhu had 
a right to expect much from the laity, but he also had to prove 
his worth and Gotama s early legislation was largely concerned 
with excluding unsuitable candidates. The solicitude for valid 
ordination was only the ecclesiastical form of the popular feeling 
that the honours and immunities of the order were conditional 
on its maintaining a certain standard of conduct. Other 
methods of reform might have been devised, but the old injunc 
tion that a monk could be admitted only by other duly ordained 
monks was fairly efficacious and could not be disputed. But 
the curious result is that though Ceylon was in early times the 
second home of Buddhism, almost all (if indeed not all) the 
monks found there now derive their right to the title of Bhikkhu 
from foreign countries. 

The Sinhalese Sangha is generally described as divided into 
four schools, those of Siam, Kelani, Amarapura and Ramanya, 
of which the first two are practically identical, Kelani being 
simply a separate province of the Siamese school, which other 
wise has its headquarters in the inland districts. This school, 
founded as mentioned above by priests who arrived in 1750, 
comprises about half of the whole Sangha and has some pre 
tensions to represent the hierarchy of Ceylon, since the last 
kings of Kandy gave to the heads of the two great monasteries 
in the capital, Asgiri and Mai watte, jurisdiction over the north 
and south of the island respectively. It differs in some particu 
lars from the Amarapura school. It only admits members of 
the highest caste and prescribes that monks are to wear the 
upper robe over one shoulder only, whereas the Amarapurans 
admit members of the first three castes (but not those lower in 
the social scale) and require both shoulders to be covered. 
There are other minor differences among which it is interesting 
to note that the Siamese school object to the use of the formula 
"I dedicate this gift to the Buddha" which is used in the other 
schools when anything is presented to the order for the use of 
the monks. It is held that this expression was correct in the life 
time of the Buddha but not after his death. The two schools 
are not mutually hostile, and members of each find a hospitable 
reception in the monasteries of the other. The laity patronize 


both indifferently and both frequent the same places of pilgrim 
age, though all of these and the majority of the temple lands 
belong to the sect of Siam. It is wealthy, aristocratic and has 
inherited the ancient traditions of Ceylon, whereas the Amara- 
purans are more active and inclined to propaganda. It is said 
they are the chief allies of the Theosophists and European 
Buddhists. The Ramanya 1 school is more recent and distinct 
than the others, being in some ways a reformed community. 
It aims at greater strictness of life, forbidding monasteries to 
hold property and insisting on genuine poverty. It also totally 
rejects the worship of Hindu deities and its lay members do not 
recognize the monks of other schools. It is not large but its 
influence is considerable. 

It has been said that Buddhism flourished in Ceylon only 
when it was able to secure the royal favour. There is some truth 
in this, for the Sangha does not struggle on its own behalf but 
expects the laity to provide for its material needs, making a 
return in educational and religious services. Such a body if not 
absolutely dependent on royal patronage has at least much to 
gain from it. Yet this admission must not blind us to the fact 
that during its long and often distinguished history Sinhalese 
Buddhism has been truly the national faith, as opposed to the 
beliefs of various invaders, and has also ministered to the 
spiritual aspirations of the nation. As Knox said in a period 
when it was not particularly flourishing, the Hindu gods look 
after worldly affairs but Buddha after the soul. When the 
island passed under British rule and all religions received im 
partial recognition, the result was not disastrous to Buddhism : 
the number of Bhikkhus greatly increased, especially in the latter 
half of the nineteenth century. And if in earlier periods there 
was an interval in which technically speaking the Sangha did 
not exist, this did not mean that interest in it ceased, for as 
soon as the kingdom became prosperous the first care of the 
kings was to set the Church in order. This zeal can be attributed 
to nothing but conviction and affection, for Buddhism is not a 
faith politically useful to an energetic and warlike prince. 

1 Ramanna is the part of Burma between Arakan and Siam. 

xxxv] CEYLON 39 

Sinhalese Buddhism is often styled primitive or original and 
it may fairly be said to preserve in substance both the doctrine 
and practice inculcated in the earliest Pali literature. In calling 
this primitive we must remember the possibility that some of 
this literature was elaborated in Ceylon itself. But, putting the 
text of the Pitakas aside, it would seem that the early Sinhalese 
Buddhism was the same as that of Asoka, and that it never 
underwent any important change. It is true that mediaeval 
Sinhalese literature is full of supernatural legends respecting the 
Buddha 1 , but still he does not become a god (for he has attained 
Nirvana) and the great Bodhisattvas, Avalokita and Manjusri, 
are practically unknown. The Abhidhammattha-sangaha 2 , which 
is still the text-book most in use among the Bhikkhus, adheres 
rigidly to the methods of the Abhidhamma 3 . It contains 
neither devotional nor magical matter but prescribes a course 
of austere mental training, based on psychological analysis and 
culminating in the rapture of meditation. Such studies and 
exercises are beyond the capacity of the majority, but no other 
road to salvation is officially sanctioned for the Bhikkhu. It is 
admitted that there are no Arhats now just as Christianity 
has no contemporary saints but no other ideal, such as the 
Boddhisattva of the Mahay anists, is held up for imitation. 

Mediaeval images of Avalokita and of goddesses have how 
ever been found in Ceylon 4 . This is hardly surprising for the 
island was on the main road to China, Java, and Camboja 5 and 
Mahayanist teachers and pilgrims must have continually passed 
through it. The Chinese biographies of that eminent tantrist, 
Amogha, say that he went to Ceylon in 741 and elaborated his 
system there before returning to China. It is said that in 1408 
the Chinese being angry at the ill-treatment of envoys whom 
they had sent to the shrine of the tooth, conquered Ceylon and 

1 See Spence Hardy, Manual of Buddhism, chap. vn. 

2 A translation by S. Z. Aung and Mrs Rhys Davids has been published by the 
Pali Text Society. The author Anuruddha appears to have lived between the 
eighth and twelfth centuries. 

3 The Sinhalese had a special respect for the Abhidhamma. Kassapa V (c. A.D. 
930) caused it to be engraved on plates of gold. Ep. Zeyl. I. p. 52. 

4 See Coomaraswamy in J.R.A.S. 1909, pp. 283-297. 

6 For intercourse with Camboja see Epigr. Zeylanica, n. p. 74. 


made it pay tribute for fifty years. By conquest no doubt is 
meant merely a military success and not occupation, but the 
whole story implies possibilities of acquaintance with Chinese 

It is clear that, though the Hinayanist church was pre 
dominant throughout the history of the island, there were up 
to the twelfth century heretical sects called Vaitulya or Vetul- 
yaka and Vajira which though hardly rivals of orthodoxy were 
a thorn in its side. A party at the Abhayagiri monastery were 
favourably disposed to the Vaitulya sect which, though of ten sup 
pressed, recovered and reappeared, being apparently reinforced 
from India. This need not mean from southern India, for Ceylon 
had regular intercourse with the north and per haps the Vaitulyas 
were Mahayanists from Bengal. The Nikaya-Sangrahawa also 
mentions that in the ninth century there was a sect called 
Nilapatadarsana 1 , who wore blue robes and preached indulgence 
in wine and love. They were possibly Tantrists from the north 
but were persecuted in southern India and never influential in 

The Mahavamsa is inclined to minimize the importance of 
all sects compared with the Mahavihara, but the picture given 
by the Nikaya-Sangrahawa may be more correct. It says that 
the Vaitulyas, described as infidel Brahmans who had composed 
a Pitaka of their own, made four attempts to obtain a footing 
at the Abhayagiri monastery 2 . In the ninth century it repre 
sents king Matvalasen as having to fly because he had embraced 
the false doctrine of the Vajiras. These are mentioned in another 
passage in connection with the Vaitulyas : they are said to have 
composed the Gudha Vinaya 3 and many Tantras. They perhaps 
were connected with the Vajrayana, a phase of Tantric Bud 
dhism. But a few years later king Mungayinsen set the church 
in order. He recognized the three orthodox schools or nikayas 
called Theriya, Dhammaruci and Sagaliya but proscribed the 
others and set guards on the coast to prevent the importation 
of heresy. Nevertheless the Vajiriya and Vaitulya doctrines 

1 A dubious legend relates that they were known in the north and suppressed 
by Harsha. See Ettinghausen, Harsha Vardhana, 1906, p. 86. Nil Sadhana appears 
to be a name for tantric practices. See Avalon, Principles of Tantra, preface, p. xix. 

2 In the reigns of Voharatissa, Gothabhaya, Mahasena and Ambaherana 
Salamevan. The kings Matvalasen and Mungayinsen are also known as Sena I and II. 

3 Secret Vinaya. 

xxxv] CEYLON 41 

were secretly practised. An inscription in Sanskrit found at the 
Jetavana and attributed to the ninth century 1 records the 
foundation of a Vihara for a hundred resident monks, 25 from 
each of the four nikayas, which it appears to regard as equiva 
lent. But in 1165 the great Parakrama Bahu held a synod to 
restore unity in the church. As a result, all Nikayas (even the 
Dhammaruci) which did not conform to the Mahavihara were 
suppressed 2 and we hear no more of the Vaitulyas and Vajiriyas. 

Thus there was once a Mahayanist faction in Ceylon, but it 
was recruited from abroad, intermittent in activity and was 
finally defeated, whereas the Hinayanist tradition was national 
and continuous. 

Considering the long lapse of time, the monastic life of Ceylon 
has not deviated much in practice from the injunctions of the 
Vinaya. Monasteries like those of Anuradhapura, which are 
said to have contained thousands of monks, no longer exist. 
The largest now to be found those at Kandy do not contain 
more than fifty but as a rule a pansala (as these institutions are 
now called) has not more than five residents and more often 
only two or three. Some pansalas have villages assigned to 
them and some let their lands and do not scruple to receive the 
rent. The monks still follow the ancient routine of making a 
daily round with the begging bowl, but the food thus collected 
is often given to the poor or even to animals and the inmates 
of the pansala eat a meal which has been cooked there. The 
Patimokkha is recited (at least in part) twice a month and 
ordinations are held annually 3 . 

The duties of the Bhikkhus are partly educational, partly 
clerical. In most villages the children receive elementary edu 
cation gratis in the pansala, and the preservation of the ancient 
texts, together with the long list of Pali and Sinhalese works 
produced until recent times almost exclusively by members of 
the Sangha 4 , is a proof that it has not neglected literature. The 

1 Epigraphia Zeylan. i. p. 4. 

2 One of the king s inscriptions says that he reconciled the clergy of the three 
Nikayas. Ep. Zeyl. i. p. 134. 

3 See Bowden in J.R.A.S. 1893, pp. 159 ff. The account refers to the Mai watte 
Monastery. But it would appear that the Patimokkha is recited in country places 
when a sufficient number of monks meet on Uposatha days. 

4 Even the poets were mostly Bhikkhus. Sinhalese literature contains a fair 
number of historical and philosophical works but curiously little about law. See 
Jolly, Recht und Sitte, p. 44. 


chief public religious observances are preaching and reading the 
scriptures. This latter, known as Bana, is usually accompanied 
by a word for word translation made by the reciter or an 
assistant. Such recitations may form part of the ordinary 
ceremonial of Uposatha days and most religious establishments 
have a room where they can be held, but often monks are 
invited to reside in a village during Was (July to October) and 
read Bana, and often a layman performs a pinkama or act of 
merit by entertaining monks for several days and inviting his 
neighbours to hear them recite. The recitation of the Jatakas 
is particularly popular but the suttas of the Digha Nikaya are 
also often read. On special occasions such as entry into a new 
house, an eclipse or any incident which suggests that it might 
be well to ward off the enmity of supernatural powers, it is 
usual to recite a collection of texts taken largely from the 
Suttanipata and called Pint. The word appears to be derived 
from the Pali paritta, a defence, and though the Pali scriptures 
do not sanction this use of the Buddha s discourses they coun 
tenance the idea that evil may be averted by the use of 
formulae 1 . 

Although Sinhalese Buddhism has not diverged much from 
the Pali scriptures in its main doctrines and discipline, yet it 
tolerates a superstructure of Indian beliefs and ceremonies 
which forbid us to call it pure except in a restricted sense. At 
present there may be said to be three religions in Ceylon; local 
animism, Hinduism and Buddhism are all inextricably mixed 
together. By local animism I mean the worship of native 
spirits who do not belong to the ordinary Hindu pantheon 
though they may be identified with its members. The priests of 
this worship are called Kapuralas and one of their principal 
ceremonies consists in dancing until they are supposed to be 
possessed by a spirit the devil dancing of Europeans. Though 
this religion is distinct from ordinary Hinduism, its deities and 
ceremonies find parallels in the southern Tamil country. In 
Ceylon it is not merely a village superstition but possesses 

1 E.g. in the Atanatiya sutta (Dig. Nik. xxxn.) friendly spirits teach a spell by 
which members of the order may protect themselves against evil ones and in 
Jataka 159 the Peacock escapes danger by reciting every day a hymn to the sun 
and the praises of past Buddhas. See also Bunyiu, Nanjios Catalogue, Nos. 487 and 

xxxv] CEYLON 43 

temples of considerable size 1 , for instance at Badulla and near 
Ratnapura. In the latter there is a Buddhist shrine in the 
court yard, so that the Blessed One may countenance the 
worship, much as the Pitakas represent him as patronizing and 
instructing the deities of ancient Magadha, but the structure 
and observances of the temple itself are not Buddhist. The chief 
spirit worshipped at Ratnapura and in most of these temples is 
Maha Saman, the god of Adam s Peak. He is sometimes identi 
fied with Lakshmana, the brother of Rama, and sometimes with 

About a quarter of the population are Tamils professing 
Hinduism. Hindu temples of the ordinary Dravidian type are 
especially frequent in the northern districts, but they are found 
in most parts and at Kandy two may be seen close to the shrine 
of the Tooth 2 . Buddhists feel no scruple in frequenting them 
and the images of Hindu deities are habitually introduced into 
Buddhist temples. These often contain a hall, at the end of 
which are one or more sitting figures of the Buddha, on the 
right hand side a recumbent figure of him, but on the left a 
row of four statues representing Mahabrahma, Vishnu, Kartti- 
keya and Mahasaman. Of these Vishnu generally receives 
marked attention, shown by the number of prayers written on 
slips of paper which are attached to his hand. Nor is this 
worship found merely as a survival in the older temples. The four 
figures appear in the newest edifices and the image of Vishnu 
never fails to attract votaries. Yet though a rigid Buddhist 
may regard such devotion as dangerous, it is not treasonable, for 
Vishnu is regarded not as a competitor but as a very reverent 
admirer of the Buddha and anxious to befriend good Buddhists. 

Even more insidious is the pageantry which since the days 
of King Tissa has been the outward sign of religion. It may be 
justified as being merely an edifying method of venerating the 
memory of a great man but when images and relics are treated 
with profound reverence or carried in solemn procession it is 
hard for the ignorant, especially if they are accustomed to the 
ceremonial of Hindu temples, not to think that these symbols 
are divine. This ornate ritualism is not authorized in any 

1 See for an account of the Maha Saman Devale, Ceylon Ant. July, 1916. 

2 So a mediaeval inscription at Mahintale of Mahinda IV records the foundation 
of Buddhist edifices and a temple to a goddess. Ep. Zeyl i. p. 103. 

E. m. 4 


known canonical text, but it is thoroughly Indian. Asoka 
records in his inscriptions the institution of religious processions 
and Hsiian Chuang relates how King Harsha organized a 
festival during which an image of the Buddha was carried on an 
elephant while the monarch and his ally the king of Assam, 
dressed as Indra and Brahma respectively, waited on it like 
servants 1 . Such festivities were congenial to the Sinhalese, as 
is attested by the long series of descriptions which fill the 
Mahavamsa down to the very last book, by what Fa-Hsien saw 
about 412 and by the Perahera festival celebrated to-day. 


The Buddhism of southern India resembled that of Ceylon 
in character though not in history. It was introduced under 
the auspices of Asoka, who mentions in his inscriptions the 
Colas, Pandyas and Keralaputras 2 . Hsiian Chuang says that in 
the Malakuta country, somewhere near Madura or Tan j ore, 
there was a stupa erected by Asoka s orders and also a monastery 
founded by Mahinda. It is possible that this apostle and others 
laboured less in Ceylon and more in south India than is generally 
supposed. The pre-eminence and continuity of Sinhalese Bud 
dhism are due to the conservative temper of the natives who 
were relatively little moved by the winds of religion which 
blew strong on the mainland, bearing with them now Jainism, 
now the worship of Vishnu or Siva. 

In the Tamil country Buddhism of an Asokan type appears 
to have been prevalent about the time of our era. The poem 
Manimegalei, which by general consent was composed in an 
early century A.D., is Buddhist but shows no leanings to 
Mahay anism. It speaks of Sivaism and many other systems 3 
as flourishing, but contains no hint that Buddhism was perse 
cuted. But persecution or at least very unfavourable conditions 
set in. Since at the time of Hsiian Chuang s visit Buddhism 

1 Similarly in a religious procession described in the Mahavamsa (xcix. 52; 
about 1750 A.D.) there were "men in the dress of Brahmas." 

2 Rock Edicts, ii. and xm. Three inscriptions of Asoka have been found in 

3 The Manimegalei even mentions six systems of philosophy which are not the 
ordinary Daranas but Lokayatam, Bauddham, Saiikhyam, Naiyayikam, Vaiseshi- 
kam, Mimamsakam. 

xxxv] CEYLON 45 

was in an advanced stage of decadence, it seems probable that 
the triumph of Sivaism began in the third or fourth century 
and that Buddhism offered slight resistance, Jainism being the 
only serious competitor for the first place. But for a long while, 
perhaps even until the sixteenth century, monasteries were kept 
up in special centres, and one of these is of peculiar importance, 
namely Kancipuram or Conjeveram 1 . Hsiian Chuang found 
there 100 monasteries with more than 10,000 brethren, all 
Sthaviras, and mentions that it was the birthplace of Dharma- 
pala 2 . We have some further information from the Talaing 
chronicles 3 which suggests the interesting hypothesis that the 
Buddhism of Burma was introduced or refreshed by mission 
aries from southern India. They give a list of teachers who 
flourished in that country, including Kaccayana and the philoso 
pher Anuruddha 4 . Of Dharmapala they say that he lived at 
the monastery of Bhadratittha near Kancipura and wrote 
fourteen commentaries in Pali 5 . One was on the Visuddhi-magga 
of Buddhaghosa and it is probable that he lived shortly after 
that great writer and like him studied in Ceylon. 

I shall recur to this question of south Indian Buddhism in 
treating of Burma, but the data now available are very meagre. 

1 Kan-chih-pu-lo. Waiters, Juan Chuang, n. 226. The identification is not 
without difficulties and it has been suggested that the town is really Negapatam. 
The Life of the pilgrim says that it was on the coast, but he does not say so himself 
and his biographer may have been mistaken. 

2 See art. by Rhys Davids in E.R.E. 

3 See Forchhammer, Jar dine Prize Essay, 1885, pp. 24 ff. 

4 Author of the Abhidhammattha-sangaha. 

6 Some have been published by the P.T. Society. 


UNTIL recent times Burma remained somewhat isolated and 
connected with foreign countries by few ties. The chronicles 
contain a record of long and generally peaceful intercourse with 
Ceylon, but this though important for religion and literature 
had little political effect. The Chinese occasionally invaded 
Upper Burma and demanded tribute but the invasions were 
brief and led to no permanent occupation. On the west Arakan 
was worried by the Viceroys of the Mogul Emperors and on the 
east the Burmese frequently invaded Siam. But otherwise 
from the beginning of authentic history until the British annex 
ation Burma was left to itself and had not, like so many Asiatic 
states, to submit to foreign conquest and the imposition of 
foreign institutions. Yet let it not be supposed that its annals 
are peaceful and uneventful. The land supplied its own compli 
cations, for of the many races inhabiting it, three, the Burmese, 
Talaings and Shans, had rival aspirations and founded dyn 
asties. Of these three races, the Burmese proper appear to have 
come from the north west, for a chain of tribes speaking 
cognate languages is said to extend from Burma to Nepal. 
The Mons or Talaings are allied linguistically to the Khmer s of 
Camboja. Their country (sometimes called Ramannadesa) was 
in Lower Burma and its principal cities were Pegu and Thaton. 
The identity of the name Talaing with Telingana or Kalinga 
is not admitted by all scholars, but native tradition con 
nects the foundation of the kingdom with the east coast of 
India and it seems certain that such a connection existed in 
historical times and kept alive Hinayanist Buddhism which 
may have been originally introduced by this route. 

The Shan States lie in the east of Burma on the borders of 
Yunnan and Laos. Their traditions carry their foundation back 
to the fourth and fifth centuries B.C. There is no confirmation 
of this, but bodies of Shans, a race allied to the Siamese, may 

OH. xxxvi] BURMA 47 

have migrated into this region at any date, perhaps bringing 
Buddhism with them or receiving it direct from China. Recent 
investigations have shown that there was also a fourth race, 
designated as Pyus, who occupied territory between the Bur 
mese and Talaings in the eleventh century. They will probably 
prove of considerable importance for philology and early history, 
perhaps even for the history of some phases of Burmese Bud 
dhism, for the religious terms found in their inscriptions are 
Sanskrit rather than Pali and this suggests direct communica 
tion with India. But until more information is available any 
discussion of this interesting but mysterious people involves so 
many hypotheses and arguments of detail that it is impossible 
in a work like the present. Prome was one of their principal 
cities, their name reappears in P iao, the old Chinese designation 
of Burma, and perhaps also in Pagan, one form of which is 
Pugama 1 . 

Throughout the historical period the pre-eminence both in 
individual kings and dynastic strength rested with the Burmese 
but their contests with the Shans and Talaings form an intricate 
story which can be related here only in outline. Though the 
three races are distinct and still preserve their languages, yet 
they conquered one another, lived in each other s capitals and 
shared the same ambitions so that in more recent centuries no 
great change occurred when new dynasties came to power or 
territory was redistributed. The long chronicle of bloodstained 
but ineffectual quarrels is relieved by the exploits of three 
great kings, Anawrata, Bayin Naung and Alompra. 

Historically, Arakan may be detached from the other 
provinces. The inhabitants represent an early migration from 
Tagaung and were not annexed by any kingdom in Burma until 
1784A.D. Tagaung, situated on the Upper Irrawaddyin the Ruby 
Mines district, was the oldest capital of the Burmese and has a 
scanty history apparently going back to the early centuries of 
our era. Much the same may be said of the Talaing kingdom 
in Lower Burma. The kings of Tagaung were succeeded by 
another dynasty connected with them which reigned at Prome. 
No dates can be given for these events, nor is the part which 
the Pyus played in them clear, but it is said that the Talaings 

1 For the Pyus see Blagden in J.R.A.S. pp. 365-388. Ibid, in Epigr. Indica, 
1913, pp. 127-133. Also reports of Burma Arch. Survey, 1916, 1917. 


destroyed the kingdom of Prome in 742 A.D. 1 According to 
tradition the centre of power moved about this time to Pagan 2 
on the bank of the Irrawaddy somewhat south of Mandalay. 
But the silence of early Chinese accounts 3 as to Pagan, which 
is not mentioned before the Sung dynasty, makes it probable 
that later writers exaggerated its early importance and it is 
only when Anawrata, King of Pagan and the first great name 
in Burmese history, ascended the throne that the course of 
events becomes clear and coherent. He conquered Thaton in 
1057 and transported many of the inhabitants to his own capital. 
He also subdued the nearer Shan states and was master of 
nearly all Burma as we understand the term. The chief work of 
his successors was to construct the multitude of pagodas which 
still ornament the site of Pagan. It would seem that the dynasty 
gradually degenerated and that the Shans and Talaings ac 
quired strength at its expense. Its end came in 1298 and was 
hastened by the invasion of Khubilai Khan. There then arose 
two simultaneous Shan dynasties at Panya and Sagaing which 
lasted from 1298 till 1364. They were overthrown by King 
Thadominpaya who is believed to have been a Shan. He 
founded Ava which, whether it was held by Burmese or Shans, 
was regarded as the chief city of Burma until 1752, although 
throughout this period the kings of Pegu and other districts 
were frequently independent. During the fourteenth century 
another kingdom grew up at Toungoo 4 in Lower Burma. Its 
rulers were originally Shan governors sent from Ava but ulti 
mately they claimed to be descendants of the last king of Pagan 
and, in this character, Bureng or Bayin Naung (1551-1581), the 
second great ruler of Burma, conquered Prome, Pegu and Ava. 
His kingdom began to break up immediately after his death 
but his dynasty ruled in Ava until the middle of the eighteenth 

During this period Europeans first made their appearance 
and quarrels with Portuguese adventurers were added to native 

1 So C. C. Lewis in the Gazetteer of Burma, vol. i. p. 292, but according to 
others the Burmese chronicles place the event at the beginning of the Christian era. 

Sometimes called New Pagan to distinguish it from Old Pagan which was a 
name of Tagaung. Also called Pagan or Pugama and in Pali Arimaddanapura. 

3 See the travels of Kia Tan described by Pelliot in B.E.F.E.O. 1904, pp. 131- 

4 More correctly Taung-ngu. 

xxxvi] BURMA 49 

dissensions. The Shans and Talaings became turbulent and after 
a tumultuous interval the third great national hero, Alaung- 
paya or Alompra, came to the front. In the short space of eight 
years (1752-1760), he gained possession of Ava, made the Bur 
mese masters of both the northern and southern provinces, 
founded Rangoon and invaded both Manipur and Siam. While 
on the latter expedition he died. Some of his successors held 
their court at Ava but Bodawpaya built a new capital at 
Amarapura (1783) and Mindon Min another at Mandalay (1857). 
The dynasty came to an end in 1886 when King Thibaw was 
deposed by the Government of India and his dominions an 

The early history of Buddhism in Burma is obscure, as in 
most other countries, and different writers have maintained 
that it was introduced from northern India, the east coast 
of India, Ceylon, China or Camboja 1 . All these views may 
be in a measure true, for there is reason to believe that it 
was not introduced at one epoch or from one source or in 
one form. 

It is not remarkable that Indian influence should be strong 
among the Burmese. The wonder rather is that they have pre 
served such strong individuality in art, institutions and every 
day life, that no one can pass from India into Burma without 
feeling that he has entered a new country. This is because the 
mountains which separate it from Eastern Bengal and run right 
down to the sea form a barrier still sufficient to prevent com- 

1 For the history and present condition of Buddhism in Burma the following 
may be consulted besides other works referred to in the course of this chapter. 

M. Bode, Edition of the Sdsanavamsa with valuable dissertations, 1897. Thia 
work is a modern Burmese ecclesiastical history written in 1861 by Pannasami. 

M. Bode, The Pali Literature of Burma, 1909. 

The Gandhavamsa : containing accounts of many Pali works written in Burma. 
Edited by Minayeff in Jour. Pali Text Soc. for 1886, pp. 54 ff. and indexed by 
M. Bode, ibid. 1896, 53 ff. 

Bigandet, Vie ou Legende de Gautama, 1878. 

Yoe, The Btfrman, his life and notions. 

J. G. Scott, Burma, a handbook of practical information, 1906. 

Reports of the Superintendent, Archaeological Survey, Burma, 1916-1920. 

Various articles (especially by Duroiselle, Taw-Sein-Ko and R. C. Temple) in 
the Indian Antiquary, Buddhism, and Bulletin de Vtfcole Franchise de VExtreme 


munication by rail. But from the earliest times Indian immi 
grants and Indian ideas have been able to find their way both 
by land and sea. According to the Burmese chronicles Tagaung 
was founded by the Hindu prince Abhiraja in the ninth century 
B.C. and the kingdom of Arakan claims as its first ruler an 
ancient prince of Benares. The legends have not much more 
historical value than the Kshattriya genealogies which Brah- 
mans have invented for the kings of Manipur, but they show 
that the Burmese knew of India and wished to connect them 
selves with it. This spirit led not only to the invention of legends 
but to the application of Indian names to Burmese localities. 
For instance Aparantaka, which really designates a district of 
western India, is identified by native scholars with Upper 
Burma 1 . The two merchants Tapussa and Bhallika who were 
the first to salute the Buddha after his enlightenment are said 
to have come from Ukkala. This is usually identified with 
Orissa but Burmese tradition locates it in Burma. A system of 
mythical geography has thus arisen. 

The Buddha himself is supposed to have visited Burma, as 
well as Ceylon, in his lifetime 2 and even to have imparted some 
of his power to the celebrated image which is now in the Arakan 
Pagoda at Mandalay. Another resemblance to the Sinhalese 
story is the evangelization of lower Burma by Asoka s mission 
aries. The Dipavamsa states 3 that Sona and Uttara were de 
spatched to Suvarnabhumi. This is identified with Ramanfia- 
desa or the district of Thaton, which appears to be a corruption 
of Saddhammapura 4 and the tradition is accepted in Burma. 
The scepticism with which modern scholars have received it is 
perhaps unmerited, but the preaching of these missionaries, if 
it ever took place, cannot at present be connected with other 
historical events. Nevertheless the statement of the Dipavamsa 
is significant. The work was composed in the fourth century 
A.D. and taken from older chronicles. It may therefore be con- 

1 So too Prome is called Srikshetra and the name Irrawaddy represents Iravati 
(the modern Ravi). The ancient town of Sravasti or Savatthi is said to reappear in 
the three forms Tharawaddy, Tharawaw and Thawutti. 

2 See Indian Antiquary, 1893, p. 6, and Forchhammer on the Mahamuni Pagoda 
in Burmese Archaeological Report (? 1890). 

3 Dipav. vni. 12, and in a more embellished form in Mahavamsa xn. 44-64. 
See also the Kalyani Inscriptions in Indian Ant. 1893, p. 16. 

4 Through the form Saton representing Saddhan. Early European travellers 
called it Satan or Xatan. 

xxxvi] BURMA 51 

eluded that in the early centuries of our era lower Burma had 
the reputation of being a Buddhist country 1 . It also appears 
certain that in the eleventh century, when the Talaings were 
conquered by Anawrata, Buddhist monks and copies of the 
Tipitaka were found there. But we know little about the 
country in the preceding centuries. The Kalyani inscription says 
that before Anawrata s conquest it was divided and decadent 
and during this period there is no proof of intercourse with 
Ceylon but also no disproof. One result of Anawrata s conquest 
of Thaton was that he exchanged religious embassies with the 
king of Ceylon, and it is natural to suppose that the two mon- 
archs were moved to this step by traditions of previous com 
munications. Intercourse with the east coast of India may be 
assumed as natural, and is confirmed by the presence of Sanskrit 
words in old Talaing and the information about southern India 
in Talaing records, in which the city of Conjevaram, the great 
commentator Dharmapala and other men of learning are often 
mentioned. Analogies have also been traced between the archi 
tecture of Pagan and southern India 2 . It will be seen that such 
communication by sea may have brought not only Hinayanist 
Buddhism but also Mahayanist and Tantric Buddhism as well 
as Brahmanism from Bengal and Orissa, so that it is not sur 
prising if all these influences can be detected in the ancient build 
ings and sculptures of the country 3 . Still the most important 
evidence as to the character of early Burmese Buddhism is 
Hinayanist and furnished by inscriptions on thin golden plates 
and tiles, found near the ancient site of Prome and deciphered 
by Finot 4 . They consist of Hinayanist religious formulae: the 
language is Pah : the alphabet is of a south Indian type and 
is said to resemble closely that used in the inscriptions of the 
Kadamba dynasty which ruled in Kanara from the third to the 

1 The Burmese identify Aparantaka and Yona to which Asoka also sent mission 
aries with Upper Burma and the Shan country. But this seems to be merely a 
misapplication of Indian names. 

2 See Forchhammer, Jardine Prize Essay, 1885, pp. 23-27. He also says that 
the earliest Talaing alphabet is identical with the Vengi alphabet of the fourth 
century A.D. Burma Archaeol. Report, 1917, p. 29. 

3 See R. C. Temple, "Notes on Antiquities of Ramanfiadesa," Ind. Antiq. 1893, 
pp. 327 ff. Though I admit the possibility that Mahayanism and Tantrism may 
have nourished in lower Burma, it does not seem to me that the few Hindu figures 
reproduced in this article prove very much. 

4 J.A. 1912, H. pp. 121-136. 


sixth century. It is to the latter part of this period that the 
inscriptions are to be attributed. They show that a form of the 
Hinayana, comparable, so far as the brief documents permit 
us to judge, with the church of Ceylon, was then known in lower 
Burma and was probably the state church. The character of 
the writing, taken together with the knowledge of southern 
India shown by the Talaing chronicles and the opinion of the 
Dipavamsa that Burma was a Buddhist country, is good 
evidence that lower Burma had accepted Hinayanism before 
the sixth century and had intercourse with southern India. 
More than that it would perhaps be rash to say. 

The Burmese tradition that Buddhaghosa was a native of 
Thaton and returned thither from Ceylon merits more attention 
than it has received. It can be easily explained away as patriotic 
fancy. On the other hand, if Buddhaghosa s object was to 
invigorate Hinayanism in India, the result of his really stu 
pendous labours was singularly small, for in India his name is 
connected with no religious movement. But if we suppose that 
he went to Ceylon by way of the holy places in Magadha and 
returned from the Coromandel Coast to Burma where Hina 
yanism afterwards nourished, we have at least a coherent nar 
rative 1 . 

It is noticeable that Taranatha states 2 that in the Koki 
countries, among which he expressly mentions Pukham (Pagan) 
and Hamsavati (Pegu), Hinayanism was preached from the 
days of Asoka onwards, but that the Mahay ana was not known 
until the pupils of Vasubandhu introduced it. 

The presence of Hinayanism in Lower Burma naturally did 
not prevent the arrival of Mahay anism. It has not left many 
certain traces but Atisa (c. 1000), a great figure in the history 
of Tibetan Buddhism, is reported to have studied both in 
Magadha and in Suvarnadvipa by which Thaton must be 
meant. He would hardly have done this, had the clergy of 
Thaton been unfriendly to Tantric learning. This mediaeval 
Buddhism was also, as in other countries, mixed with Hinduism 

1 It is remarkable that Buddhaghosa commenting on Ang. Nik. 1.14. 6 (quoted 
by Forchhammer) describes the merchants of Ukkala as inhabiting Asitanjana in 
the region of Hamsavati or Pegu. This identification of Ukkala with Burmese 
territory is a mistake but accepted in Burma and it is more likely that a Burmese 
would have made it than a Hindu. 

8 Chap, xxxix. 

xxxvi] BURMA 53 

but whereas in Camboja and Champa Sivaism, especially the 
worship of the lingam, was long the official and popular cult 
and penetrated to Siam, few Sivaite emblems but numerous 
statues of Vishnuite deities have hitherto been discovered in 

The above refers chiefly to Lower Burma. The history of 
Burmese Buddhism becomes clearer in the eleventh century but 
before passing to this new period we must enquire what was 
the religious condition of Upper Burma in the centuries pre 
ceding it. It is clear that any variety of Buddhism or Brah- 
manism may have entered this region from India by land at 
any epoch. According to both Hsiian Chuang and I-Ching 
Buddhism flourished in Samatata and the latter mentions 
images of Avalokita and the reading of the Prajna-paramita. 
The precise position of Samatata has not been fixed but in any 
case it was in the east of Bengal and not far from the modern 
Burmese frontier. The existence of early Sanskrit inscriptions 
at Taungu and elsewhere has been recorded but not with as 
much detail as could be wished 1 . Figures of Bodhisattvas and 
Indian deities are reported from Prome 2 , and in the Lower 
Chindwin district are rock-cut temples resembling the caves of 
Barabar in Bengal. Inscriptions also show that at Prome there 
were kings, perhaps in the seventh century, who used the Pyu 
language but bore Sanskrit titles. According to Burmese tradi 
tion the Buddha himself visited the site of Pagan and prophesied 
that a king called Sammutiraya would found a city there and 
establish the faith. This prediction is said to have been fulfilled 
in 108 A.D. but the notices quoted from the Burmese chronicles 
are concerned less with the progress of true religion than with 
the prevalence of heretics known as Aris 3 . It has been conjec 
tured that this name is a corruption of Arya but it appears that 
the correct orthography is aran representing an original aran- 
yaka, that is forest priests. It is hard to say whether they were 
degraded Buddhists or an indigenous priesthood who in some 

1 See however Epig. Indica, vol. v. part iv. Oct. 1898, pp. 101-102. For the 
prevalence of forms which must be derived from Sanskrit not Pali see Burma 
Arch. Rep. 1916, p. 14, and 1917, p. 39. 

2 Report of Supt. Arch. Survey Burma, 1909, p. 10, 1910, p. 13, and 1916, 
pp. 33, 38. Finot, Notes d Epigraphie, p. 357. 

8 See especially Finot in J.A. 1912, n. p. 123, and Huber in B.E.F.E.O. 1909 
p. 584. 


ways imitated what they knew of Brahmanic and Buddhist 
institutions. They wore black robes, let their hair grow, wor 
shipped serpents, hung up in their temples the heads of animals 
that had been sacrificed, and once a year they assisted the king 
to immolate a victim to the Nats on a mountain top. They 
claimed power to expiate all sins, even parricide. They lived in 
convents (which is their only real resemblance to Buddhist 
monks) but were not celibate 1 . Anawrata is said to have sup 
pressed the Aris but he certainly did not extirpate them for an 
inscription dated 1468 records their existence in the Myingyan 
district. Also in a village near Pagan are preserved Tantric 
frescoes representing Bodhisattvas with their Saktis. In one 
temple is an inscription dated 1248 and requiring the people to 
supply the priests morning and evening with rice, beef, betel, 
and a jar of spirits 2 . It is not clear whether these priests were 
Aris or not, but they evidently professed an extreme form of 
Buddhist Saktism. 

Chinese influences in Upper Burma must also be taken into 
account. Burmese kings were perhaps among the many 
potentates who sent religious embassies to the Emperor Wu-ti 
about 525 A.D. and the T ang 3 annals show an acquaintance with 
Burma. They describe the inhabitants as devout Buddhists, 
reluctant to take life or even to wear silk, since its manufacture 
involves the death of the silk worms. There were a hundred 
monasteries into which the youth entered at the age of seven, 
leaving at the age of twenty, if they did not intend to become 
monks. The Chinese writer does not seem to have regarded the 
religion of Burma as differing materially from Buddhism as he 
knew it and some similarities in ecclesiastical terminology shown 
by Chinese and Burmese may indicate the presence of Chinese 

1 The Aris are further credited with having practised a sort of jus primes 
noctis. See on this question the chapter on Camboja and alleged similar customs 

2 See Burma Arch. Rep. 1916, pp. 12, 13. They seem to have been similar to 
the NilapatanadarSana of Ceylon. The Prabodhacandrodaya (about 1100 A.D.) 
represents Buddhist monks as drunken and licentious. 

3 See Parker, Burma, 1892. The annalist says "There is a huge white elephant 
(or image) 100 feet high. Litigants burn incense and kneel before it, reflecting 
within themselves whether they are right or wrong. . . . When there is any disaster 
or plague the king also kneels in front of it and blames himself." The Chinese 
character means either image or elephant, but surely the former must be the 
meaning here. 

xxxvi] BURMA 55 

influence 1 . But this influence, though possibly strong between 
the sixth and tenth centuries A.D., and again about the time of 
the Chinese invasion of 1284 2 , cannot be held to exclude Indian 

Thus when Anawrata came to the throne 3 several forms of 
religion probably co -existed at Pagan, and probably most of 
them were corrupt, though it is a mistake to think of his 
dominions as barbarous. The reformation which followed is 
described by Burmese authors in considerable detail and as 
usual in such accounts is ascribed to the activity of one per 
sonality, the Thera Arahanta who came from Thaton and en 
joyed Anawrata s confidence. The story implies that there was 
a party in Pagan which knew that the prevalent creed was 
corrupt and also looked upon Thaton and Ceylon as religious 
centres. As Anawrata was a man of arms rather than a theo 
logian, we may conjecture that his motive was to concentrate in 
his capital the flower of learning as known in his time a motive 
which has often animated successful princes in Asia and led to 
the unceremonious seizure of living saints. According to the 
story he broke up the communities of Aris at the instigation of 
Arahanta and then sent a mission to Manohari, king of Pegu, 
asking for a copy of the Tipitaka and for relics. He received a 
contemptuous reply intimating that he was not to be trusted 
with such sacred objects. Anawrata in indignation collected an 
army, marched against the Talaings and ended by carrying off 
to Pagan not only elephant loads of scriptures and relics, but 
also all the Talaing monks and nobles with the king himself 4 . 
The Pitakas were stored in a splendid pagoda and Anawrata 

1 See Taw-Sein-Ko, in Ind. Antiquary, 1906, p. 211. But I must confess that I 
have not been able to follow or confirm all the etymologies suggested by him. 

2 See for Chinese remains at Pagan, Report of the Superintendent, Arch. Survey, 
Burma, for year ending 31st March, 1910, pp. 20, 21. An inscription at Pagan 
records that in 1285 Khubilai s troops were accompanied by monks sent to evan 
gelize Burma. Both troops and monks halted at Tagaung and both were sub 
sequently withdrawn. See Arch. Survey, 1917, p. 38. 

3 The date of Anawrata s conquest of Thaton seems to be now fixed by inscrip 
tions as 1057 A.D., though formerly supposed to be earlier. See Burma Arch. Eep. 
1916. For Anawrata s religious reforms see Sdsanavamsa, pp. 17 ff. and 57 ff. 

4 It has been noted that many of the inscriptions explanatory of the scenes 
depicted on the walls of the Ananda temple at Pagan are in Talaing, showing that 
it was some time before the Burmans were able to assimilate the culture of the 
conquered country. 


sent to Ceylon 1 for others which were compared with the 
copies obtained from Thaton in order to settle the text 2 . 

For 200 years, that is from about 1060 A.D. until the later 
decades of the thirteenth century, Pagan was a great centre of 
Buddhist culture not only for Burma but for the whole east, 
renowned alike for its architecture and its scholarship. The 
former can still be studied in the magnificent pagodas which 
mark its site. Towards the end of his reign Anawrata made not 
very successful attempts to obtain relics from China and Ceylon 
and commenced the construction of the Shwe Zigon pagoda. 
He died before it was completed but his successors, who enjoyed 
fairly peaceful reigns, finished the work and constructed about 
a thousand other buildings among which the most celebrated is 
the Ananda temple erected by King Kyansitha 3 . 

Pali literature in Burma begins with a little grammatical 
treatise known as Karika and composed in 1064 A.D. by the 
monk Dhammasenapati who lived in the monastery attached 
to this temple. A number of other works followed. Of these the 
most celebrated was the Saddaniti of Aggavamsa (1154), a 
treatise on the language of the Tipitaka which became a classic 
not only in Burma but in Ceylon. A singular enthusiasm for 
linguistic studies prevailed especially in the reign of Kyocva 
(c. 1230), when even women are said to have been distinguished 
for the skill and ardour which they displayed in conquering the 
difficulties of Pali grammar. Some treatises on the Abhidham- 
ma were also produced. 

Like Mohammedanism, Hinayanist Buddhism is too simple 
and definite to admit much variation in doctrine, but its clergy 
are prone to violent disputes about apparently trivial questions. 
In the thirteenth century such disputes assumed grave propor 
tions in Burma. About 1175 A.D. a celebrated elder named 

1 So the Sdsanavamsa, p. 64 and p. 20. See also Bode, Pali Literature of Burma, 
p. 15. But the Mahavamsa, LX. 4-7, while recording the communications between 
Vijaya Bahu and Aniruddha (= Anawrata) represents Ceylon as asking for monks 
from Ramaiina, which implies that lower Burma was even then regarded as a 
Buddhist country with a fine tradition. 

2 The Burmese canon adds four works to the Khuddaka-Nikaya, namely: 
(a) Milinda Pafiha, (6) Netti-Pakarana, (c) Suttasahgaha, (d) Petakopadesa. 

8 Inscriptions give his reign as 1084-1112 A.D. See Burma Arch. Rep. 1916, 
p. 24. Among many other remarkable edifices may be mentioned the Thapinyu or 
Thabbannu (1100), the Gaudapalin (1160) and the Bodhi (c. 1200) which is a copy 
of the temple at Bodhgaya. 

xxxvi] BURMA 57 

Uttarajiva accompanied by his pupil Chapata left for Ceylon. 
They spent some years in study at the Mahavihara and Chapata 
received ordination there. He returned to Pagan with four other 
monks and maintained that valid ordination could be conferred 
only through the monks of the Mahavihara, who alone had kept 
the succession unbroken. He with his four companions, having 
received this ordination, claimed power to transmit it, but he 
declined to recognize Burmese orders. This pretension aroused 
a storm of opposition, especially from the Talaing monks. They 
maintained that Arahanta who had reformed Buddhism under 
Anawrata was spiritually descended from the missionaries sent 
by Asoka, who were as well qualified to administer ordination 
as Mahinda. But Chapata was not only a man of learning and 
an author 1 but also a vigorous personality and in favour at 
Court. He had the best of the contest and succeeded in making 
the Talaing school appear as seceders from orthodoxy. There 
thus arose a distinction between the Sinhalese or later school 
and the old Burmese school, who regarded one another as 
schismatics. A scandal was caused in the Sinhalese community 
by Rahula, the ablest of Chapata s disciples, who fell in love 
with an actress and wished to become a layman. His colleagues 
induced him to leave the country for decency s sake and peace 
was restored but subsequently, after Chapata s death, the re 
maining three disciples 2 fell out on questions of discipline rather 
than doctrine and founded three factions, which can hardly be 
called schools, although they refused to keep the Uposatha 
days together. The light of religion shone brightest at Pagan 
early in the thirteenth century while these three brethren were 
alive and the Sasanavamsa states that at least three Arhats 
lived in the city. But the power of Pagan collapsed under 
attacks from both Chinese and Shans at the end of the century 

1 The best known of his works are the Sutta-niddesa on grammar and the 
Sankhepavannana. The latter is a commentary on the Abhidhamtnattha-sangaha, 
but it is not certain if Chapata composed it or merely translated it from the 

2 Some authorities speak as if the four disciples of Chapata had founded four 
sects, but the reprobate Kahnla can hardly have done this. The above account is 
taken from the Kalyani inscription, /??</. Ant. 1893, pp. 30, 31. Jt says very dis 
tinctly "There were in Pugama (Pagan) 4 sects. 1. The successors of the priests 
who introduced the religion from Sudhaminanagara (i.e. the Mramma Sangha). 
2. The disciples of Sivalimahathera. 3. The disciples of Tamalindamahathera. 
4. The disciples of Ananda Mahathera." 


and the last king became a monk under the compulsion of Shan 
chiefs. The deserted city appears to have lost its importance as 
a religious centre, for the ecclesiastical chronicles shift the 
scene elsewhere. 

The two Shan states which arose from the ruin of Pagan, 
namely Panya (Vijayapura) and Sagaing (Jeyyapura), encour 
aged religion and learning. Their existence probably explains 
the claim made in Siamese inscriptions of about 1300 that the 
territory of Siam extended to Hamsavati or Pegu and this con 
tact of Burma and Siam was of great importance for it must be 
the origin of Pali Buddhism in Siam which otherwise remains 

After the fall of the two Shan states in 1364, Ava (or Ratna- 
pura) which was founded in the same year gradually became 
the religious centre of Upper Burma and remained so during 
several centuries. But it did not at first supersede older towns 
inasmuch as the loss of political independence did not always 
involve the destruction of monasteries. Buddhism also flour 
ished in Pegu and the Talaing country where the vicissitudes of 
the northern kingdoms did not affect its fortunes. 

Anawrata had transported the most eminent Theras of 
Thaton to Pagan and the old Talaing school probably suffered 
temporarily. Somewhat later we hear that the Sinhalese school 
was introduced into these regions by Sariputta 1 , who had been 
ordained at Pagan. About the same time two Theras of Marta- 
ban, preceptors of the Queen, visited Ceylon and on returning 
to their own land after being ordained at the Mahavihara con 
sidered themselves superior to other monks. But the old Bur 
mese school continued to exist. Not much literature was pro 
duced in the south. Sariputta was the author of a Dhammathat 
or code, the first of a long series of law books based upon Manu. 
Somewhat later Mahayasa of Thaton (c. 1370) wrote several 
grammatical works. 

The most prosperous period for Buddhism in Pegu was the 
reign of Dhammaceti, also called Ramadhipati (1460-1491). 
He was not of the royal family, but a simple monk who helped 
a princess of Pegu to escape from the Burmese court where she 
was detained. In 1453 this princess became Queen of Pegu and 
Dhammaceti left his monastery to become her prime minister, 

1 Also known by the title of Dhammavitasa. He was active in 1246. 

xxxvi] BURMA 59 

son-in-law and ultimately her successor. But though he had 
returned to the world his heart was with the Church. He was 
renowned for his piety no less than for his magnificence and is 
known to modern scholars as the author of the Kalyani inscrip 
tions 1 , which assume the proportions of a treatise on ecclesi 
astical laws and history. Their chief purpose is to settle an 
intricate and highly technical question, namely the proper 
method of defining and consecrating a simd. This word, which 
means literally boundary, signifies a plot of ground within which 
Uposatha meetings, ordinations and other ceremonies can take 
place. The expression occurs in the Vinaya Pitaka 2 , but the 
area there contemplated seems to be an ecclesiastical district 
within which the Bhikkhus were obliged to meet for Uposatha. 
The modern simd is much smaller 3 , but more important since 
it is maintained that valid ordination can be conferred only 
within its limits. To Dhammaceti the question seemed mo 
mentous, for as he explains, there were in southern Burma six 
schools who would not meet for Uposatha. These were, first the 
Camboja 4 school (identical with the Arahanta school) who 
claimed spiritual descent from the missionaries sent by Asoka 
to Suvarnabhumi, and then five divisions of the Sinhalese 
school, namely the three founded by Chapata s disciples as 
already related and two more founded by the theras of Marta- 
ban. Dhammaceti accordingly sent a mission to Ceylon charged 
to obtain an authoritative ruling as to the proper method of 
consecrating a simd and conferring ordination. On their return 
a locality known as the Kalyanisima was consecrated in the 
manner prescribed by the Mahavihara and during three years all 
the Bhikkhus of Dhammaceti s kingdom were reordained there. 
The total number reached 15,666, and the king boasts that he 
had thus purified religion and made the school of the Mahavi 
hara the only sect, all other distinctions being obliterated. 

1 Found in Zaingganaing, a suburb of Pegu. The text, translation and notes are 
contained in various articles by Taw-Sein-Ko in the Indian Antiquary for 1893^. 

2 Mahavagga, n. 11, 12, 13. 

3 According to Taw-Sein-Ko (Ind. Ant. 1893, p. 11) "about 105 or 126 feet in 

4 No contact with Cambojan religion is implied. The sect was so called because 
its chief monastery was near the Camboja market and this derived its name from 
the fact that many Cambojan (probably meaning Shan) prisoners were confined 
near it. 

E. in. * 


There can be little doubt that in the fifteenth century 
Burmese Buddhism had assumed the form which it still has, 
but was this form due to indigenous tradition or to imitation of 
Ceylon? Five periods merit attention, (a) In the sixth century, 
and probably several centuries earlier, Hinayanism was known 
in Lower Burma. The inscriptions attesting its existence are 
written in Pali and in a south Indian alphabet. (6) Anawrata 
(1010-1052) purified the Buddhism of Upper Burma with the 
help of scriptures obtained from the Talaing country, which 
were compared with other scriptures brought from Ceylon. 

(c) About 1200 Chapata and his pupils who had studied in 
Ceylon and received ordination there refused to recognize the 
Talaing monks and two hostile schools were founded, pre 
dominant at first in Upper and Lower Burma respectively. 

(d) About 1250 the Sinhalese school, led by Sariputta and others, 
began to make conquests in Lower Burma at the expense of the 
Talaing school, (e) Two centuries later, about 1460, Dham- 
maceti of Pegu boasts that he has purified religion and made 
the school of the Mahavihara, that is the most orthodox form 
of the Sinhalese school, the only sect. 

In connection with these data must be taken the important 
statement that the celebrated Tantrist Atisa studied in Lower 
Burma about 1000 A.D. Up to a certain point the conclusion 
seems clear. Pali Hinayanism in Burma was old: intercourse 
with southern India and Ceylon tended to keep it pure, whereas 
intercourse with Bengal and Orissa, which must have been 
equally frequent, tended to import Mahayanism. In the time 
of Anawrata the religion of Upper Burma probably did 
not deserve the name of Buddhism. He introduced in its 
place the Buddhism of Lower Burma, tempered by refer 
ence to Ceylon. After 1200 if not earlier the idea prevailed 
that the Mahavihara was the standard of orthodoxy and 
that the Talaing church (which probably retained some 
Mahay anist features) fell below it. In the fifteenth century 
this view was universally accepted, the opposition and indeed 
the separate existence of the Talaing church having come 
to an end. 

But it still remains uncertain whether the earliest Burmese 
Buddhism came direct from Magadha or from the south. The 
story of Asoka s missionaries cannot be summarily rejected 

xxxvi] BURMA 61 

but it also cannot be accepted without hesitation 1 . It is the 
Ceylon chronicle which knows of them and communication 
between Burma and southern India was old and persistent. It 
may have existed even before the Christian era. 

After the fall of Pagan, Upper Burma, of which we must 
now speak, passed through troubled times and we hear little of 
religion or literature. Though Ava was founded in 1364 it did 
not become an intellectual centre for another century. But the 
reign of Narapati (1442-1468) was ornamented by several writers 
of eminence among whom may be mentioned the monk poet 
Silavamsa and Ariyavamsa,. an exponent of the Abhidhamma. 
They are noticeable as being the first writers to publish religious 
works, either original or translated, in the vernacular and this 
practice steadily increased. In the early part of the sixteenth 
century 2 occurred the only persecution of Buddhism known in 
Burma. Thohanbwa, a Shan who had become king of Ava, 
endeavoured to exterminate the order by deliberate massacre 
and delivered temples, monasteries and libraries to the flames. 
The persecution did not last long nor extend to other districts 
but it created great indignation among the Burmese and was 
perhaps one of the reasons why the Shan dynasty of Ava was 
overthrown in 1555. 

Bayin (or Bureng) Naung stands out as one of the greatest 
personalities in Burmese history. As a Buddhist he was zealous 
even to intolerance, since he forced the Shans and Moslims of 
the northern districts, and indeed all his subjects, to make a 
formal profession of Buddhism. He also, as related elsewhere, 
made not very successful attempts to obtain the tooth relic 
from Ceylon. But it is probable that his active patronage of 
the faith, as shown in the construction and endowment of 
religious buildings, was exercised chiefly in Pegu and this must 
be the reason why the Sasanavamsa (which is interested chiefly 
in Upper Burma) says little about him. 

His successors showed little political capacity but encour 
aged religion and literature. The study of the Abhidhamma was 

1 In favour of it, it may be said that the Dipavamsa and the earlier traditions 
on which the Dipavamsa is based are ancient and impartial witnesses: against it, 
that Asoka s attention seems to have been directed westwards, not towards Bengal 
and Burma, and that no very early proof of the existence of Buddhism in Burma 
has been found. 

2 Apparently about 1525-1530. 


specially flourishing in the districts of Ava and Sagaing from 
about 1600 to 1650 and found many illustrious exponents. 
Besides works in Pali, the writers of this time produced numer 
ous Burmese translations and paraphrases of Abhidhamma 
works, as well as edifying stories. 

In the latter part of the seventeenth century Burma was in 
a disturbed condition and the Sasanavamsa says that religion 
was dimmed as the moon by clouds. A national and religious 
revival came with the victories of Alompra (1752 onwards), but 
the eighteenth century also witnessed the rise of a curious and 
not very edifying controversy which divided the Sangha for 
about a hundred years and spread to Ceylon 1 . It concerned the 
manner in which the upper robe of a monk, consisting of a long 
piece of cloth, should be worn. The old practice in Burma was 
to wrap this cloth round the lower body from the loins to the 
ankles, and draw the end from the back over the left shoulder 
and thence across the breast over the right shoulder so that it 
finally hung loose behind. But about 1698 began the custom 
of walking with the right shoulder bare, that is to say letting 
the end of the robe fall down in front on the left side. The 
Sangha became divided into two factions known as Ekamsika 
(one-shouldered) and Pdrupana (fully clad). The bitterness of 
the seemingly trivial controversy was increased by the fact 
that the Ekamsikas could produce little scriptural warrant and 
appealed to late authorities or the practice in Ceylon, thus 
neglecting sound learning. For the Vinaya frequently 2 pre 
scribes that the robe is to be adjusted so as to fall over only one 
shoulder as a mark of special respect, which implies that it was 
usually worn over both shoulders. In 1712 and again about 
twenty years later arbitrators were appointed by the king to 
hear both sides, but they had not sufficient authority or learning 

1 See Sdsanavamsa, pp. 118 ff. 

2 E.g. Mahavagga, I. 29, 2; iv. 3, 3. Ekamsam uttarasangam karitva. But 
both arrangements of drapery are found in the oldest images of the Buddha and 
perhaps the Ekamsika fashion is the commoner. See Griinwedel, Buddhist Art in 
India, 1901, p. 172. Though these images are considerably later than the Mahavagga 
and prove nothing as to the original practice of the Sangha, yet they show that 
the Ekamsika fashion prevailed at a relatively early period. It now prevails in 
Siam and partly in Ceylon. I-Ching (chap, xi.) has a discussion on the way robes 
were worn in India (c. 680 A.D.) which is very obscure but seems to say that monks 
may keep their shoulders covered while in a monastery but should uncover one 
when they go out. 

xxxvi] BURMA 63 

to give a decided opinion. The stirring political events of 1 740 and 
the following years naturally threw ecclesiastical quarrels into the 
shade but when the great Alompra had disposed of his enemies 
he appeared as a modern Asoka. The court religiously observed 
Uposatha days and the king was popularly believed to be a 
Bodhisattva 1 . He was not however sound on the great question 
of ecclesiastical dress. His chaplain, Atula, belonged to the 
Ekamsika party and the king, saying that he wished to go into 
the whole matter himself but had not for the moment leisure, 
provisionally ordered the Sarigha to obey Atula s ruling. But 
some champions of the other side stood firm. Alompra dealt 
leniently with them, but died during his Siamese campaign 
before he had time to unravel the intricacies of the Vinaya. 

The influence of Atula, who must have been an astute if not 
learned man, continued after the king s death and no measures 
were taken against the Ekamsikas, although King Hsin-byu-shin 
(1763-1776) persecuted an heretical sect called Paramats 2 . His 
youthful successor, Sing-gu-sa, was induced to hold a public 
disputation. The Ekamsikas were defeated in this contest and 
a royal decree was issued making the Parupana discipline 
obligatory. But the vexed question was not settled for it came 
up again in the long reign (1781-1819) of Bodopaya. This king 
has won an evil reputation for cruelty and insensate conceit 3 , 
but he was a man of vigour and kept together his great empire. 
His megalomania naturally detracted from the esteem won by 
his piety. His benefactions to religion were lavish, the shrines 
and monasteries which he built innumerable. But he desired to 
build a pagoda larger than any in the world and during some 
twenty years wasted an incalculable amount of labour and 
money on this project, still commemorated by a gigantic but 
unfinished mass of brickwork now in ruins. In order to supervise 
its erection he left his palace and lived at Mingun, where he 

1 S&sanav. p. 123. Sakala-Maramma-ratthavasino ca: ayam amhakam raja 
bodhisatto ti voharimsu. In the Po-U-Daung inscription, Alompra s son, Hsin- 
byu-shin. says twice "In virtue of this my good deed, may I become a Buddha,. . . 
an omniscient one." Indian Antiquary, 1893, pp. 2 and 5. There is something 
Mahayanist in this aspiration. Cf. too the inscriptions of the Siamese King Sri- 
Suryavamsa Rama mentioned below. 

2 They were Puritans who objected to shrines and images and are said to be 
represented to-day by the Sawti sect. 

8 See The Burmese. Empire by the Italian Father Sangermano, who went to 
Burma in 1783 and lived there about 20 years. 


conceived the idea that he was a Buddha, an idea which had 
not been entirely absent from the minds of Alompra and Hsin- 
byu-shin. It is to the credit of the Theras that, despite the 
danger of opposing an autocrat as cruel as he was crazy, they 
refused to countenance these pretensions and the king returned 
to his palace as an ordinary monarch. 

If he could not make himself a Buddha, he at least disposed 
of the Ekamsika dispute, and was probably influenced in his 
views by Sfanabhivamsa, a monk of the Parupana school whom 
he made his chaplain, although Atula was still alive. At first 
he named a commission of enquiry, the result of which was that 
the Ekamsikas admitted that their practice could not be 
justified from the scriptures but only by tradition. A royal 
decree was issued enjoining the observance of the Parupana 
discipline, but two years later Atula addressed a letter to the 
king in which he maintained that the Ekamsika costume was 
approved in a work called Culaganthipada, composed by 
Moggalana, the immediate disciple of the Buddha. The king 
ordered representatives of both parties to examine this conten 
tion and the debate between them is dramatically described in 
the Sasanavamsa. It was demonstrated that the text on which 
Atula relied was composed in Ceylon by a thera named Moggalana 
who lived in the twelfth century and that it quoted mediaeval 
Sinhalese commentaries. After this exposure the Ekamsika party 
collapsed. The king commanded (1784) the Parupana discipline 
to be observed and at last the royal order received obedience. 

It will be observed that throughout this controversy both 
sides appealed to the king, as if he had the right to decide the 
point in dispute, but that his decision had no compelling power 
as long as it was not supported by evidence. He could ensure 
toleration for views regarded by many as heretical, but was 
unable to force the views of one party on the other until the 
winning cause had publicly disproved the contentions of its 
opponents. On the other hand the king had practical control 
of the hierarchy, for his chaplain was de facto head of the 
Church and the appointment was strictly personal. It was not 
the practice for a king to take on his predecessor s chaplain and 
the latter could not, like a Lamaist or Catholic ecclesiastic, 
claim any permanent supernatural powers. Bodopaya did some 
thing towards organizing the hierarchy for he appointed four 

xxxvi] BURMA 65 

elders of repute to be Sangharajas or, so to speak, Bishops, 
with four more as assistants and over them all his chaplain 
Sana as Archbishop. Sana was a man of energy and lived in turn 
in various monasteries supervising the discipline and studies. 

In spite of the extravagances of Bodopaya, the Church was 
flourishing and respected in his reign. The celebrated image 
called Mahamuni was transferred from Arakan to his capital 
together with a Sanskrit library, and Burma sent to Ceylon not 
only the monks who founded the Amarapura school but also 
numerous Pali texts. This prosperity continued in the reigns of 
Bagyidaw, Tharrawadi and Pagan-min, who were of little per 
sonal account. The first ordered the compilation of the Yazawin, 
a chronicle which was not original but incorporated and super 
seded other works of the same kind. In his reign arose a question 
as to the validity of grants of land, etc., for religious purposes. 
It was decided in the sense most favourable to the order, viz. 
that such grants are perpetual and are not invalidated by the 
lapse of time. About 1845 there was a considerable output of 
vernacular literature. The Digha, Samyutta and Anguttara 
Nikayas with their commentaries were translated into Burmese 
but no compositions in Pali are recorded. 

From 1852 till 1877 Burma was ruled by Mindon-min, who 
if not a national hero was at least a pious, peace-loving, capable 
king. His chaplain, Pafifiasami, composed the Sasanavamsa, or 
ecclesiastical history of Burma, and the king himself was am 
bitious to figure as a great Buddhist monarch, though with more 
sanity than Bodopaya, for his chief desire was to be known as 
the Convener of the Fifth Buddhist Council. The body so styled 
met from 1868 to 1871 and, like the ancient Sangitis, proceeded 
to recite the Tipitaka in order to establish the correct text. The 
result may still be seen at Mandalay in the collection of buildings 
commonly known as the four hundred and fifty Pagodas: a 
central Stupa surrounded by hundreds of small shrines each 
sheltering a perpendicular tablet on which a portion of this 
veritable bible in stone is inscribed. Mindon-min also corrected 
the growing laxity of the Bhikkhus, and the esteem in which 
the Burmese church was held at this time is shown by the fact 
that the monks of Ceylon sent a deputation to the Sangharaja 
of Mandalay referring to his decision a dispute about a simd or 
ecclesiastical boundary. 


Mindon-min was succeeded by Thibaw, who was deposed by 
the British. The Sarigharaja maintained his office until he died 
in 1895. An interregnum then occurred for the appointment 
had always been made by the king, not by the Sangha. But 
when Lord Curzon visited Burma in 1 90 1 he made arrangements 
for the election by the monks themselves of a superior of the 
whole order and Taunggwin Sayadaw was solemnly installed in 
this office by the British authorities in 1903 with the title of 
Thathanabaing 1 . 

We may now examine briefly some sides of popular religion 
and institutions which are not Buddhist. It is an interesting 
fact that the Burmese law books or Dhammathats 2 , which are 
still accepted as regulating inheritance and other domestic 
matters, are Indian in origin and show no traces of Sinhalese 
influence although since 1750 there has been a decided tendency 
to bring them into connection with authorities accepted by 
Buddhism. The earliest of these codes are those of Dham- 
mavilasa (1174 A.D.) and of Waguru, king of Martaban in 1280. 
They professedly base themselves on the authority of Manu 
and, so far as purely legal topics are concerned, correspond 
pretty closely with the rules of the Manava-dharmasastra. But 
they omit all prescriptions which involve Brahmanic religious 
observances such as penance and sacrifice. Also the theory of 
punishment is different and inspired by the doctrine of Karma, 
namely, that every evil deed will bring its own retribution. 
Hence the Burmese codes ordain for every crime not penalties 
to be suffered by the criminal but merely the payment of com 
pensation to the party aggrieved, proportionate to the damage 
suffered 3 . It is probable that the law-books on which these 
codes were based were brought from the east coast of India and 

1 Thathana is the Pali Sasana. In Burmese pronunciation the s of Indian words 
regularly appears as th (=0), r as y and j as z. Thus Thagya for Sakra, Yazawin for 

2 See E. Forchhammer, Jardine Prize Essay (on the sources and development 
of Burmese Law), 1885. J. Jolly, "Recht und Sitte" in Grundriss der Ind. Ar. Phil 
1896, pp. 41-44. M. H. Bode, Pali Lit. of Burma, pp. 83 ff. Dhammathat is the 
Burmese pronunciation of Dhammasattha, Sanskrit Dharmasastra. 

3 This theory did not prevent the kings of Burma and their subordinates from 
inflicting atrociously cruel punishments. 

xxxvi] BURMA 67 

were of the same type as the code of Narada, which, though of 
unquestioned Brahmanic orthodoxy, is almost purely legal and 
has little to say about religion. A subsidiary literature embody 
ing local decisions naturally grew up, and about 1640 was sum 
marized by a Burmese nobleman called Kaing-za in theMaharaja- 
dhammathat. He received from the king the title of Manuraja 
and the name of Manu became connected with his code, though 
it is really based on local custom. It appears to have superseded 
older law-books until the reign of Alompra who remodelled the 
administration and caused several codes to be compiled 1 . These 
also preserve the name of Manu, but he and Kaing-za are 
treated as the same personage. The rules of the older law-books 
are in the main retained but are made to depend on Buddhist 
texts. Later Dhammathats become more and more decidedly 
Buddhist. Thus the Mohavicchedani (1832) does not mention 
Manu but presents the substance of the Manu Dhammathats as 
the law preached by the Buddha. 

Direct Indian influence may be seen in another department 
not unimportant in an oriental country. The court astrologers, 
soothsayers and professors of kindred sciences were even in 
recent times Brahmans, known as Ponna and mostly from 
Manipur. An inscription found at Pagan and dated 1442 men 
tions the gift of 295 books 2 to the Sangha among which several 
have Sanskrit titles and about 1600 we hear of Pandits learned 
in the Vedasastras, meaning not Vedic learning in the strict 
sense but combinations of science and magic described as 
medicine, astronomy, Kamasastras, etc. Hindu tradition was 
sufficiently strong at the Court to make the presence of experts 
in the Atharva Veda seem desirable and in the capital they were 
in request for such services as drawing up horoscopes 3 and 

1 Forchhammer gives a list of 39 Dhammathats compiled between 1753 and 

2 They seem to have included tantric works of the Mahakalacakra type. See 
Bode, Pali Lit. of Burma, p. 108, Nos. 270, 271. But the name is given in the Pali 
form cakka. 

3 Among usages borrowed from Hinduism may be mentioned the daily washing 
in holy water of the image in the Arakan temple at Mandalay. Formerly court 
festivities, such as the New Year s feast and the festival of ploughing, were per 
formed by Ponnas and with Indian rites. On the other hand the Ramayana does 
not seem to have the same influence on art and literature that it has had in Siam 
and Java, though scenes from it are sometimes depicted. See Report, Supt. 
Archaeolog. Survey, Burma, 1908, p. 22. 


invoking good luck at weddings whereas monks will not attend 
social gatherings. 

More important as a non-Buddhist element in Burmese 
religion is the worship of Nats 1 or spirits of various kinds. Of 
the prevalence of such worship there is no doubt, but I cannot 
agree with the authorities who say that it is the practical 
religion of the Burmese. No passing tourist can fail to see that 
in the literal as well as figurative sense Burma takes its colour 
from Buddhism, from the gilded and vermilion pagodas and 
the yellow robed priests. It is impossible that so much money 
should be given, so many lives dedicated to a religion which 
had not a real hold on the hearts of the people. The worship of 
Nats, wide -spread though it be, is humble in its outward signs 
and is a superstition rather than a creed. On several occasions 
the kings of Burma have suppressed its manifestations when 
they became too conspicuous. Thus Anawrata destroyed the 
Nat houses of Pagan and recent kings forbade the practice of 
firing guns at funerals to scare the evil spirits. 

Nats are of at least three classes, or rather have three 
origins. Firstly they are nature spirits, similar to those revered 
in China and Tibet. They inhabit noticeable natural features of 
every kind, particularly trees, rivers and mountains ; they may 
be specially connected with villages, houses or individuals. 
Though not essentially evil they are touchy and vindictive, 
punishing neglect or discourtesy with misfortune and ill-luck. 
No explanation is offered as to the origin of many Nats, but 
others, who may be regarded as forming the second category, 
are ghosts or ancestral spirits. In northern Burma Chinese 
influence encouraged ancestor worship, but apart from this 
there is a disposition (equally evident in India) to believe that 
violent and uncanny persons and those who meet with a tragic 
death become powerful ghosts requiring propitiation. Thirdly, 
there are Nats who are at least in part identified with the Indian 
deities recognized by early Buddhism. It would seem that the 
Thirty Seven Nats, described in a work called the Mahagita 
Medanigyan, correspond to the Thirty Three Gods of Buddhist 
mythology, but that the number has been raised for unknown 

1 See especially The Thirty Seven Nats by Sir R. C. Temple, 1906, and Burma 
by Sir J. G. Scott, 1906, pp. 380 E. The best authorities seem agreed that Nat is 
not the Sanskrit Natha but an indigenous word of unknown derivation. 

xxxvi] BURMA 69 

reasons to 37 l . They are spirits of deceased heroes, and there is 
nothing unbuddhist in this conception, for the Pitakas fre 
quently represent deserving persons as being reborn in the 
Heaven of the Thirty Three. The chief is Thagya, the Sakra or 
Indra of Hindu mythology 2 , but the others are heroes, connected 
with five cycles of legends based on a popular and often inac 
curate version of Burmese history 3 . 

Besides Thagya Nat we find other Indian figures such as 
Man Nat (Mara) and Byamma Nat (Brahma). In diagrams 
illustrating the Buddhist cosmology of the Burmans 4 a series of 
heavens is depicted, ascending from those of the Four Kings 
and Thirty Three Gods up to the Brahma worlds, and each in 
habited by Nats according to their degree. Here the spirits of 
Burma are marshalled and classified according to Buddhist 
system just as were the spirits of India some centuries before. 
But neither in ancient India nor in modern Burma have the 
devas or Nats anything to do with the serious business of 
religion. They have their place in temples as guardian genii and 
the whole band may be seen in a shrine adjoining the Shwe-zi- 
gon Pagoda at Pagan, but this interferes no more with the 
supremacy of the Buddha than did the deputations of spirits 
who according to the scriptures waited on him. 

Buddhism is a real force in Burmese life and the pride of 
the Burmese people. Every male Burman enters a monastery 
when he is about 15 for a short stay. Devout parents send their 
sons for the four months of Was (or even for this season during 
three successive years), but by the majority a period of from 
one month to one week is considered sufficient. To omit this 
stay in a monastery altogether would not be respectable: it is 
in common esteem the only way to become a human being, for 
without it a boy is a mere animal. The praises of the Buddha 

1 Possibly in order to include four female spirits: or possibly because it was fel 
that sundry later heroes had as strong a claim to membership of this distinguished 
body as the original 33. 

2 It is noticeable that Thagya comes from the Sanskrit Sakra not the Pali 
Sakka. Th = Sk. s: y = Sk. r. 

8 See R. C. Temple, The Thirty Seven Nats, chaps, x.-xin., for these cycles. 
4 E.g. R. C. Temple, I.e. p. 36. 


and vows to lead a good life are commonly recited by the laity 1 
every morning and evening. It is the greatest ambition of 
most Burmans to build a pagoda and those who are able to do 
so (a large percentage of the population to judge from the 
number of buildings) are not only sure of their reward in 
another birth but even now enjoy respect and receive the title 
of pagoda-builder. Another proof of devotion is the existence 
of thousands of monasteries 2 perhaps on an average more than 
two for each large village and town built and supported by 
voluntary contributions. The provision of food and domicile for 
their numerous inmates is no small charge on the nation, but 
observers are agreed that it is cheerfully paid and that the 
monks are worthy of what they receive. In energy and morality 
they seem, as a class, superior to their brethren in Ceylon and 
Siam, and their services to education and learning have been 
considerable. Every monastery is also a school, where instruc 
tion is given to both day boys and boarders. The vast majority 
of Burmans enter such a school at the age of eight or nine and 
learn there reading, writing, and arithmetic. They also receive 
religious instruction and moral training. They commit to 
memory various works in Pali and Burmese, and are taught the 
duties which they owe to themselves, society and the state. 
Sir J. G. Scott, who is certainly not disposed to exaggerate the 
influence of Buddhism in Burma, says that "the education of 
the monasteries far surpasses the instruction of the Anglo - 
vernacular schools from every point of view except that of 
immediate success in life and the obtaining of a post under 
Government 3 ." The more studious monks are not merely 
schoolmasters but can point to a considerable body of literature 
which they have produced in the past and are still producing 4 . 
Indeed among the Hinayanist churches that of Burma has in 
recent centuries held the first place for learning. The age and 
continuity of Sinhalese traditions have given the Sangha of 
Ceylon a correspondingly great prestige but it has more than 

1 According to Sir J. G. Scott much more commonly than prayers among 
Christians. Burma, p. 366. 

* 15,371 according to the census of 1891. The figures in the last census are not 
conveniently arranged for Buddhist statistics. 

3 Hastings EncycL of Religion and Ethics, art. "Burma (Buddhism)." 

4 See Bode, Pali Literature in Burma, pp. 95 ff. 

xxxvi] BURMA 71 

once been recruited from Burma and in literary output it can 
hardly rival the Burmese clergy. 

Though many disquisitions on the Vinaya have been pro 
duced in Burma, and though the Jatakas and portions of the 
Sutta Pitaka (especially those called Parittam) are known to 
everybody, yet the favourite study of theologians appears to 
be the Abhidhamma, concerning which a multitude of hand 
books and commentaries have been written, but it is worth 
mentioning that the Abhidhammattha-sangaha, composed in 
Ceylon about the twelfth century A.D., is still the standard man 
ual 1 . Yet it would be a mistake to think of the Burmese monks 
as absorbed in these recondite studies : they have on the contrary 
produced a long series of works dealing with the practical 
things of the world, such as chronicles, law-books, ethical and 
political treatises, and even poetry, for Silavamsa and Rattha- 
pala whose verses are still learned by the youth of Burma were 
both of them Bhikkhus. The Sangha has always shown a laud 
able reserve in interfering directly with politics, but in former 
times the king s private chaplain was a councillor of importance 
and occasionally matters involving both political and religious 
questions were submitted to a chapter of the order. In all cases 
the influence of the monks in secular matters made for justice 
and peace: they sometimes interceded on behalf of the con 
demned or represented that taxation was too heavy. In 1886, 
when the British annexed Burma, the Head of the Sangha for 
bade monks to take part in the political strife, a prohibition 
which was all the more remarkable because King Thibaw had 
issued proclamations saying that the object of the invasion was 
to destroy Buddhism. 

In essentials monastic life is much the same in Burma and 
Ceylon but the Burmese standard is higher, and any monk 
known to miscon duct himself would be driven out by the laity. 
The monasteries are numerous but not large and much space 
is wasted, for, though the exterior suggests that they are built 
in several stories the interior usually is a single hall, although it 
may be divided by partitions. To the eastern side is attached a 
chapel containing images of Gotama before which daily devotions 

1 No less than 22 translations of it have been made into Burmese. See S. Z. 
Aung in J.P.T.S. 1912, p. 129. He also mentions that night lectures on the Abhi 
dhamma in Burmese are given in monasteries. 


are performed. It is surmounted by a steeple culminating in 
a kti, a sort of baldachino or sacred umbrella placed also on 
the top of dagobas, and made of open metal work hung with 
little bells. Monasteries are always built outside towns and, 
though many of them become subsequently enclosed by the 
growth of the larger cities, they retain spacious grounds in 
which there may be separate buildings, such as a library, dor 
mitories for pupils and a hall for performing the ordination 
service. The average number of inmates is six. A large establish 
ment may house a superior, four monks, some novices and 
besides them several lay scholars. The grades are Sahin or 
novice, Pyit-shin or fully ordained monk and Pongyi, literally 
great glory, a monk of at least ten years standing. Bank de 
pends on seniority that is to say the greatest respect is shown 
to the monk who has observed his vows for the longest period, 
but there are some simple hierarchical arrangements. At the 
head of each monastery is a Saya or superior, and all the 
monasteries of a large town or a country district are under the 
supervision of a Provincial called Gaing-Ok. At the head of 
the whole church is the Thathanabaing, already mentioned. 
All these higher officials must be Pongyis. 

Although all monks must take part in the daily round to 
collect alms yet in most monasteries it is the custom (as in 
Ceylon and Siam) not to eat the food collected, or at least not 
all of it, and though no solid nourishment is taken after midday, 
three morning meals are allowed, namely, one taken very early, 
the next served on the return from the begging round and a 
third about 11.30. Two or three services are intoned before the 
image of the Buddha each day. At the morning ceremony, 
which takes place about 5.30, all the inmates of the monastery 
prostrate themselves before the superior and vow to observe 
the precepts during the day. At the conclusion of the evening 
service a novice announces that a day has passed away and in 
a loud voice proclaims the hour, the day of the week, the day 
of the month and the year. The laity do not usually attend these 
services, but near large monasteries there are rest houses for 
the entertainment of visitors and Uposatha days are often 
celebrated by a pious picnic. A family or party of friends take 
a rest-house for a day, bring a goodly store of cheroots and betel 
nut, which are not regarded as out of place during divine 

xxxvi] BURMA 73 

service 1 , and listen at their ease to the exposition of the law 
delivered by a yellow-robed monk. When the congregation in 
cludes women he holds a large fan-leaf palm before his face lest 
his eyes should behold vanity. A custom which might not be 
to the taste of western ecclesiastics is that the congregation ask 
questions and, if they do not understand, request the preacher 
to be clearer. 

There is little sectarianism in Burma proper, but the Sawtis, 
an anti-clerical sect, are found in some numbers in the Shan 
States and similar communities called Man are still met with 
in Pegu and Tenasserim, though said to be disappearing. Both 
refuse to recognize the Sangha, monasteries or temples and per 
form their devotions in the open fields. Otherwise their mode 
of thought is Buddhist, for they hold that every man can work 
out his own salvation by conquering Mara 2 , as the Buddha did, 
and they use the ordinary formulae of worship, except that 
they omit all expressions of reverence to the Sangha. The ortho 
dox Sangha is divided into two schools known as Mahagandi 
and Sulagandi. The former are the moderate easy-going 
majority who maintain a decent discipline but undeniably 
deviate somewhat from the letter of the Vinaya. The latter are 
a strict and somewhat militant Puritan minority who protest 
against such concessions to the flesh. They insist for instance 
that a monk should eat out of his begging bowl exactly as it is 
at the end of the morning round and they forbid the use of silk 
robes, sunshades and sandals. The Sulagandi also believe in free 
will and attach more value to the intention than the action in 
estimating the value of good deeds, whereas the Mahagandi 
accept good actions without enquiring into the motive and 
believe that all deeds are the result of karma. 

In Burma all the higher branches of architecture are almost 
exclusively dedicated to religion. Except the Palace at Manda- 
lay there is hardly a native building of note which is not con 
nected with a shrine or monastery. Burmese architectural 

1 But on such occasions the laity usually fast after midday. 

2 Man is the Burmese form of Mara. 


forms show most analogy to those of Nepal and perhaps 1 both 
preserve what was once the common style for wooden buildings 
in ancient India. In recent centuries the Burmese have shown 
little inclination to build anything that can be called a temple, 
that is a chamber containing images and the paraphernalia of 
worship. The commonest form of religious edifice is the dagoba 
or zedi 2 : images are placed in niches or shrines, which shelter 
them, but only rarely, as on the platform of the Shwe Dagon at 
Rangoon, assume the proportions of rooms. This does not apply 
to the great temples of Pagan, built from about 1050 to 1200, 
but that style was not continued and except the Arakan 
Pagoda at Mandalay has perhaps no modern representative. 
Details of these buildings may be found in the works of Forch- 
hammer, Fergusson, de Beylie and various archaeological re 
ports. Their construction is remarkably solid. They do not, like 
most large buildings in India or Europe, contain halls of some 
size but are rather pyramids traversed by passages. But this 
curious disinclination to build temples of the usual kind is not 
due to any dislike of images. In no Buddhist country are they 
more common and their numbers are more noticeable because 
there is here no pantheon as in China and Tibet, but images of 
Gotama are multiplied, merely in order to obtain merit. Some 
slight variety in these figures is produced by the fact that the 
Burmese venerate not only Gotama but the three Buddhas who 
preceded him 3 . The Shwe Dagon Pagoda is reputed to contain 
relics of all four; statues of them all stand in the beautiful 
Ananda Pagoda at Pagan and not infrequently they are repre 
sented by four sitting figures facing the four quarters. A gigantic 
group of this kind composed of statues nearly 90 feet high 

1 Among the most striking characteristics of the Nepalese style are buildings of 
many stories each with a projecting roof. No examples of similar buildings from 
ancient India have survived, perhaps because they were made of wood, but repre 
sentations of two-storied buildings have come down to us, for instance on the 
Sohgaura copper plate which dates probably from the time of Asoka (see Biihler, 
W.Z.K.M. 1896, p. 138). See also the figures in Foucher s Art Greco-bouddhique du 
Gandhdra, on pp. 121, 122. The monuments at Mamallapuram known as Raths 
(see Fergusson, Indian and Eastern Architecture, I. p. 172) appear to be representa 
tions of many storied Viharas. There are several references to seven storied buildings 
in the Jatakas. 

2 = cetiya. 

3 Occasionally groups of five Buddhas, that is, these four Buddhas together 
with Metteyya, are found. See Report of the Supt. Arch. Survey (Burma] for the year 
ending March 3Ist, 1910, p. 16. 




stands in the outskirts of Pegu, and in the same neighbourhood 
is a still larger recumbent figure 180 feet long. It had been for 
gotten since the capture of Pegu by the Burmans in 1757 and 
was rediscovered by the engineers surveying the route for the 
railway. It lies almost in sight of the line and is surprising by 
its mere size, as one comes upon it suddenly in the jungle. As 
a wo?k of art it can hardly be praised. It does not suggest the 
Buddha on his death bed, as is intended, but rather some huge 
spirit of the jungle waking up and watching the railway with 
indolent amusement. 

In Upper Burma there are not so many large images but as 
one approaches Mandalay the pagodas add more and more to 
the landscape. Many are golden and the rest are mostly white 
and conspicuous. They crown the hills and punctuate the wind 
ings of the valleys. Perhaps Burmese art and nature are seen 
at their best near Sagaing on the bank of the Irrawaddy, a 
mighty flood of yellow water, sweeping down smooth and steady, 
but here and there showing whirlpools that look like molten 
metal. From the shore rise hills of moderate height studded 
with monasteries and shrines. Flights of white steps lead to the 
principal summits where golden spires gleam and everywhere 
are pagodas of all ages, shapes and sizes. Like most Asiatics the 
Burmese rarely repair, but build new pagodas instead of reno 
vating the old ones. The instinct is not altogether unjust. A 
pagoda does not collapse like a hollow building but understands 
the art of growing old. Like a tree it may become cleft or over 
grown with moss but it remains picturesque. In the neighbour 
hood of Sagaing there is a veritable forest of pagodas; humble 
seedlings built by widows mites, mature golden domes reared 
by devout prosperity and venerable ruins decomposing as all 
compound things must do. 

The pagoda slaves are a curious institution connected with 
temples. Under the Burmese kings persons could be dedicated 
to pagodas and by this process not only became slaves for life 
themselves but involved in the same servitude all their posterity, 
none of whom could by any method become free. They formed 
a low caste like the Indian Pariahs and though the British 
Government has aoolished the legal status of slavery, the social 
stigma which clings to them is said to be undiminished. 

Art and architecture make the picture of Burma as it 


E. III. 


remains in memory and they are the faithful reflection of the 
character and ways of its inhabitants, their cheerful but religious 
temper, their love of what is fanciful and graceful, their moder 
ate aspirations towards what is arduous and sublime. The most 
striking feature of this architecture is its free use of gold and 
colour. In no country of the world is gilding and plating with 
gold so lavishly employed on the exterior of buildings. The 
larger Pagodas such as the Shwe Dagon are veritable pyramids 
of gold, and the roofs of the Arakan temple as they rise above 
Mandalay show tier upon tier of golden beams and plates. The 
brilliancy is increased by the equally lavish use of vermilion, 
sometimes diversified by glass mosaic. I remember once in an 
East African jungle seeing a clump of flowers of such brilliant 
red and yellow that for a moment I thought it was a fire. 
Somewhat similar is the surprise with which one first gazes on 
these edifices. I do not know whether the epithet flamboyant 
can be correctly applied to them as architecture but both in 
colour and shape they imitate a pile of flame, for the outlines 
of monasteries and shrines are fanciful in the extreme; gabled 
roofs with finials like tongues of fire and panels rich with 
carvings and fret-work. The buildings of Hindus and Burmans 
are as different as their characters. When a Hindu temple is 
imposing it is usually because of its bulk and mystery, whereas 
these buildings are lighthearted and fairy-like : heaps of red and 
yellow fruit with twining leaves and tendrils that have grown 
by magic. Nor is there much resemblance to Japanese archi 
tecture. There also, lacquer and gold are employed to an unusual 
extent but the flourishes, horns and finials which in Burma 
spring from every corner and projection are wanting and both 
Japanese and Chinese artists are more sparing and reticent. 
They distribute ornament so as to emphasize and lead up to 
the more important parts of their buildings, whereas the open- 
handed, splendour-loving Burman puts on every panel and 
pillar as much decoration as it will hold. 

The result must be looked at as a whole and not too minutely. 
The best work is the wood carving which has a freedom and 
boldness often missing in the minute and crowded designs of 
Indian art. Still as a rule it is at the risk of breaking the spell 
that you examine the details of Burmese ornamentation. Better 
rest content with your first amazement on beholding these 

xxxvi] BURMA 77 

carved and pinnacled piles of gold and vermilion, where the 
fantastic animals and plants seem about to break into life. 

The most celebrated shrine in Burma is the Shwe Dagon 
Pagoda which attracts pilgrims from all the Buddhist world. 
No descriptions of it gave me any idea of its real appearance 
nor can I hope that I shall be more successful in giving the 
reader my own impressions. The pagoda itself is a gilt bell- 
shaped mass rather higher than the Dome of St Paul s and 
terminating in a spire. It is set in the centre of a raised mound 
or platform, approached by lofty flights of steps. The platform, 
which is paved and level, is of imposing dimensions, some nine 
hundred feet long and seven hundred wide. Round the base of 
the central pagoda is a row of shrines and another row runs 
round the edge of the platform so that one moves, as it were, in 
a street of these edifices, leading here and there into side 
squares where are quiet retreats with palm trees and gigantic 
images. But when after climbing the long staircase one first 
emerges on the platform one does not realize the topography 
at once and seems to have entered suddenly into Jerusalem the 
Golden. Right and left are rows of gorgeous, fantastic sanc 
tuaries, all gold, vermilion and glass mosaic, and within them 
sit marble figures, bland, enigmatic personages who seem to 
invite approach but offer no explanation of the singular scene 
or the part they play in it. If analyzed in detail the artistic 
merits of these shrines might be found small but the total 
impression is unique. The Shwe Dagon has not the qualities 
which usually distinguish great religious buildings. It is not 
specially impressive by its majesty or holiness; it is certainly 
wanting in order and arrangement. But on entering the plat 
form one feels that one has suddenly passed from this life into 
another and different world. It is not perhaps a very elevated 
world; certainly not the final repose of the just or the steps of 
the throne of God, but it is as if you were walking in the bazaars 
of Paradise one of those Buddhist Paradises where the souls 
of the moderately pure find temporary rest from the whirl of 
transmigration, where the very lotus flowers are golden and the 
leaves of the trees are golden bells that tinkle in the perfumed 


THE Buddhism of Siam does not differ materially from that of 
Burma and Ceylon but merits separate mention, since it has 
features of its own due in some measure to the fact that Siam 
is still an independent kingdom ruled by a monarch who is also 
head of the Church. But whereas for the last few centuries this 
kingdom may be regarded as a political and religious unit, its 
condition in earlier times was different and Siamese history 
tells us nothing of the introduction and first diffusion of Indian 
religions in the countries between India and China. 

1 The principal sources for information about Siamese Buddhism are: Journal 
of Siam Society, 1904, and onwards. 

L. Fournereau, Le Siam Ancien, 2 vols. 1895 and 1908 in Annales du Muse"e 
Ouimet. Cited here as Fournereau. 

Mission Pavie II, Histoire du Laos, du Cambodge et du Siam, 1898. 

Gerini, Researches on Ptolemy s Geography of Eastern Asia, 1909. Cited here as 
Gerini, Ptolemy. 

Gerini, Chuldkantamangala or Tonsure Ceremony, 1893. 

H. Alabaster, The Wheel of the Law, 1871. 

P. A. Thompson, Lotus Land, 1906. 

W. A. Graham, Siam, 1912. 

Petithuguenin, "Notes critiques pour servir a 1 histoire du Siam," B.E.F.E.O. 
1916, No. 3. 

Coedes, "Documents sur la Dynastie de Sukhodaya," ib. 1917, No. 2. 

Much curious information may be found in the Directory for Bangkok and Siam, 
a most interesting book. I have only the issue for 1907. 

I have adopted the conventional European spelling for such words as may be 
said to have one. For other words I have followed Pallegoix s dictionary (1896) 
for rendering the vowels and tones in Roman characters, but have departed in 
some respects from his system of transliterating consonants as I think it unnecessary 
and misleading to write j and x for sounds which apparently correspond to y and 
ch as pronounced in English. 

The King of Siam has published a work on the spelling of His Majesty s own 
language in Latin letters which ought to be authoritative, but it came into my 
hands too late for me to modify the orthography here adopted. 

As Pallegoix s spelling involves the use of a great many accents I have some 
times begun by using the strictly correct orthography and afterwards a simpler but 
intelligible form. It should be noted that in this orthography ":" is not a colon 
but a sign that the vowel before it is very short. 




The people commonly known as Siamese call themselves 
Thai which (in the form Tai) appears to be the racial name of 
several tribes who can be traced to the southern provinces of 
China. They spread thence, in fanlike fashion, from Laos to 
Assam, and the middle section ultimately descended the Menam 
to the sea. The Siamese claim to have assumed the name Thai 
(free) after they threw off the yoke of the Cambojans, but this 
derivation is more acceptable to politics than to ethnology. 
The territories which they inhabited were known as Siern, 
Syam or Syama, which is commonly identified with the Sanskrit 
(Syama, dark or brown 1 . But the names Shan and A-hom seem 
to be variants of the same word and Syama is possibly not its 
origin but a learned and artificial distortion 2 . The Lao were 
another division of the same race who occupied the country 
now called Laos before the Tai had moved into Siam. This 
movement was gradual and until the beginning of the twelfth 
century they merely established small principalities, the princi 
pal of which was Lamphun 3 , on the western arm of the Mekong. 
They gradually penetrated into the kingdoms of Svankalok, 
Sukhothai 4 and Lavo (Lophburi) which then were vassals of 
Camboja, and they were reinforced by another body of Tais 
which moved southwards early in the twelfth century. For 
some time the Cambojan Empire made a successful effort to 
control these immigrants but in the latter part of the thirteenth 
century the Siamese definitely shook off its yoke and founded 
an independent state with its capital at Sukhothai. There was 
probably some connection between these events and the south 
ern expeditions of Khubilai Khan who in 1254 conquered Talifu 
and set the Tai tribes in motion. 

The history of their rule in Siam may be briefly described as 
a succession of three kingdoms with capitals at Sukhothai, 
Ayuthia and Bangkok respectively. Like the Burmese, the 
Siamese have annals or chronicles. They fall into two divisions, 

1 The name is found on Champan inscriptions of 1050 A.D. and according to 
Gerini appears in Ptolemy s Samarade = Samarattha. See Gerini, Ptolemy, p. 170. 
But Samarade is located near Bangkok and there can hardly have been Tais there 
in Ptolemy s time. 

2 So too in Central Asia Kustana appears to be a learned distortion of the name 
Khotan, made to give it a meaning in Sanskrit. 

3 Gerini states (Ptolemy, p. 107) that there are Pali manuscript chronicles of 
Lamphun apparently going back to 924 A.D. 

4 Strictly Sukhothai. 


the chronicles 1 of the northern kingdom in three volumes which 
go down to the foundation of Ayuthia and are admitted even 
by the Siamese to be mostly fabulous, and the later annals in 
40 volumes which were rearranged after the sack of Ayuthia in 
1767 but claim to begin with the foundation of the city. Various 
opinions have been expressed as to their trustworthiness 2 , but 
it is allowed by all that they must be used with caution. More 
authoritative but not very early are the inscriptions set up by 
various kings, of which a considerable number have been 
published and translated 3 . 

The early history of Sukhothai and its kings is not yet 
beyond dispute but a monarch called Ramaraja or Rama 
Khomheng played a considerable part in it. His identity with 
Phaya Ruang, who is said to have founded the dynasty and 
city, has been both affirmed and denied. Sukhothai, at least as 
the designation of a kingdom, seems to be much older than his 
reign 4 . It was undoubtedly understood as the equivalent of the 
Sanskrit Sukhodaya, but like Syama it may be an adaptation 
of some native word. In an important inscription found at 
Sukhothai and now preserved at Bangkok 5 , which was probably 
composed about 1300 A.D., Rama Khomheng gives an account of 
his kingdom. On the east it extended to the banks of the 
Mekhong and beyond it to Chava (perhaps a name of Luang- 
Prabang) : on the south to the sea, as far as Sri Dharmaraja or 
Ligor: on the west to Hamsavati or Pegu. This last statement 
is important for it enables us to understand how at this period, 
and no doubt considerably earlier, the Siamese were acquainted 
with Pali Buddhism. The king states that hitherto his people 
had no alphabet but that he invented one 6 . This script subse- 

1 Phongsa va: dan or Vamsavada. See for Siamese chronicles, B.E.F.E.O. 1914, 
No. 3, "Recension palie des annales d Ayuthia," and ibid. 1916, pp. 5-7. 

2 E.g. Aymonier in J.A. 1903, p. 186, and Gerini in Journal of Siam Society, 
vol. n. part 1, 1905. 

3 See especially Fournereau and the publications of the Mission Pavie and 

* Gerini, Ptolemy, p. 176. 

6 See Fournereau, i. p. 225. B.E.F.E.O. 1916, in. pp. 8-13, and especially 
Bradley in J. Siam Society, 1909, pp. 1-68. 

6 This alphabet appears to be borrowed from Cambojan but some of the 
letters particularly in their later shapes show the influence of the Mon or Talaing 
script. The modern Cambojan alphabet, which is commonly used for ecclesiastical 
purposes in Siam, is little more than an elaborate form of Siamese. 

xxxvii] SIAM 81 

quently developed into the modern Siamese writing which, 
though it presents many difficulties, is an ingenious attempt 
to express a language with tones in an alphabet. The vocabulary 
of Siamese is not homogeneous : it comprises (a) a foundation of 
Thai, (6) a considerable admixture of Khmer words, (c) an 
element borrowed from Malay and other languages, (d) numer 
ous ecclesiastical and learned terms taken from Pali and San 
skrit. There are five tones which must be distinguished, if either 
written or spoken speech is to be intelligible. This is done partly 
by accents and partly by dividing the forty-four consonants 
(many of which are superfluous for other purposes) into three 
groups, the high, middle and deep. 

The king also speaks of religion. The court and the inhabi 
tants of Sukhothai were devout Buddhists: they observed the 
season of Vassa and celebrated the festival of Kathina with 
processions, concerts and reading of the scriptures. In the city 
were to be seen statues of the Buddha and scenes carved in 
relief, as well as large monasteries. To the west of the city was 
the Forest Monastery, presented to a distinguished elder who 
came from Sri Dharmaraja and had studied the whole Tripitaka. 
The mention of this official and others suggests that there was a 
regular hierarchy and the king relates how he exhumed certain 
sacred relics and built a pagoda over them. Though there is no 
direct allusion to Brahmanism, stress is laid on the worship of 
spirits and devas on which the prosperity of the kingdom de 

The form of Buddhism described seems to have differed 
little from the Hinayanism found in Siam to-day. Whence did 
the Siamese obtain it? For some centuries before they were 
known as a nation, they probably professed some form of 
Indian religion. They came from the border lands, if not from 
the actual territory of China, and must have been acquainted 
with Chinese Buddhism. Also Burmese influence probably 
reached Yunnan in the eighth century 1 , but it is not easy to 
say what form of religion it brought with it. Still when the 
Thai entered what is now Siam, it is likely that their religion 
was some form of Buddhism. While they were subject to Cam- 
bo j a they must have felt the influence of Sivaism and possibly 

1 See B.E.F.E.O. 1904, p. 161. 


of Mahayanist Sanskrit Buddhism but no Pali Buddhism can 
have come from this quarter 1 . 

Southern Siam was however to some extent affected by 
another wave of Buddhism. From early times the eastern coast 
of India (and perhaps Ceylon) had intercourse not only with 
Burma but with the Malay Peninsula. It is proved by inscrip 
tions that the region of Ligor, formerly known as Sri Dhar- 
maraja, was occupied by Hindus (who were probably Buddhists) 
at least as early as the fourth century A.D. 2 , and Buddhist 
inscriptions have been found on the mainland opposite Penang. 
The Chinese annals allude to a change in the customs of Camboja 
and I-Ching says plainly that Buddhism once flourished there 
but was exterminated by a wicked king, which may mean that 
Hinayanist Buddhism had spread thither from Ligor but was 
suppressed by a dynasty of Sivaites. He also says that at the 
end of the seventh century Hinayanism was prevalent in the 
islands of the Southern Sea. An inscription of about the fourth 
century found in Kedah and another of the seventh or eighth 
from Phra Pathom both contain the formula Ye dharmd, etc. 
The latter inscription and also one from Mergui ascribed to the 
eleventh century seem to be in mixed Sanskrit and Pali. The 
Sukhothai inscription summarized above tells how a learned 
monk was brought thither from Ligor and clearly the Pali 
Buddhism of northern Siam may have followed the same route. 
But it probably had also another more important if not exclusive 
source, namely Burma. After the reign of Anawrata Pali Bud 
dhism was accepted in Burma and in what we now call the 
Shan States as the religion of civilized mankind and this con 
viction found its way to the not very distant kingdom of 
Sukhothai. Subsequently the Siamese recognized the seniority 
and authority of the Sinhalese Church by inviting an instructor 
to come from Ceylon, but in earlier times they can hardly have 
had direct relation with the island. 

1 Bradley, J. Siam Society, 1913, p. 10, seems to think that Pali Buddhism may 
have come thence but the objection is that we know a good deal about the religion 
of Camboja and that there is no trace of Pali Buddhism there until it was imported 
from Siam. The fact that the Siamese alphabet was borrowed from Camboja does 
not prove that religion was borrowed in the same way. The Mongol alphabet can 
be traced to a Nestorian source. 

2 See for these inscriptions papers on the Malay Peninsula and Siam by Finot 
and Lajonquiere in Bull, de la Comm. Archeol. de I Indo-Chine, 1909, 1910 and 1912. 

xxxvn] SIAM 83 

We have another picture of religious life in a Khmer inscrip 
tion 1 of Lidaiya or Sri Suryavamsa Rama composed in 1361 or 
a little later. This monarch, who is also known by many lengthy 
titles, appears to have been a man of learning who had studied 
the Tipitaka, the Vedas, the Sastragama and Dharmanaya and 
erected images of Mahesvara and Vishnu as well as of the 
Buddha. In 1361 he sent a messenger to Ceylon charged with 
the task of bringing back a Metropolitan or head of the Sahgha 
learned in the Pitakas. This ecclesiastic, who is known only by 
his title, was duly sent and on arriving in Siam was received 
with the greatest honour and made a triumphal progress to 
Sukhothai. He is not represented as introducing a new religion: 
the impression left by the inscription is rather that the king 
and his people being already well-instructed in Buddhism de 
sired ampler edification from an authentic source. The arrival 
of the Sarigharaja coincided with the beginning of Vassa and 
at the end of the sacred season the king dedicated a golden 
image of the Buddha, which stood in the midst of the city, and 
then entered the order. In doing so he solemnly declared his 
hope that the merit thus acquired might make him in future 
lives not an Emperor, an Indra or a Brahma but a Buddha 
able to save mankind. He pursued his religious career with a 
gratifying accompaniment of miracles and many of the nobility 
and learned professions followed his example. But after a 
while a deputation waited on his Majesty begging him to return 
to the business of his kingdom 2 . An edifying contest ensued. 
The monks besought him to stay as their preceptor and guide : 
the laity pointed out that government was at an end and 
claimed his attention. The matter was referred to the Sarigharaja 
who decided that the king ought to return to his secular duties. 
He appears to have found little difficulty in resuming lay habits 
for he proceeded to chastise the people of Luang -Prabang. 

Two other inscriptions 3 , apparently dating from this epoch, 

1 Fournereau, pp. 157 ff. and Coedes in B.E.F.E.O. 1917, No. 2. Besides the 
inscription itself, which is badly defaced in parts, we have (1) a similar inscription 
in Thai, which is not however a translation, (2) a modern Siamese translation, used 
by Schmitt but severely criticised by Coedes and Petithuguenin. 

2 This portion of the narrative is found only in Schmitt s version of the Siamese 
translation. The part of the stone where it would have occurred is defaced. 

3 See Fournereau, vol. n. inscriptions xv and xvi and the account of the Jatakas, 
p. 43. 


relate that a cutting of the Bo-tree was brought from Ceylon 
and that certain relics (perhaps from Patna) were also installed 
with great solemnity. To the same time are referred a series of 
engravings on stone (not reliefs) found in the Vat-si-jum at 
Sukhothai. They illustrate about 100 Jatakas, arranged for 
the most part according to the order followed in the Pali 

The facts that King Sri Suryavamsa sent to Ceylon for his 
Metropolitan and that some of the inscriptions which extol his 
merits are in Pali 1 make it probable that the religion which he 
professed differed little from the Pali Buddhism which nourishes 
in Siam to-day and this supposition is confirmed by the general 
tone of his inscriptions. But still several phrases in them have 
a Mahay anist flavour. He takes as his model the conduct of the 
Bodhisattvas, described as ten headed by Metteyya, and his vow 
to become a Buddha and save all creatures is at least twice 
mentioned. The Buddhas are said to be innumerable and the 
feet of Bhikkhus are called Buddha feet 2 . There is no difficulty 
in accounting for the presence of such ideas : the only question 
is from what quarter this Mahayanist influence came. The king 
is said to have been a student of Indian literature : his country, 
like Burma, was in touch with China and his use of the Khmer 
language indicates contact with Camboja. 

Another inscription engraved by order of Dharmasokaraja 3 
and apparently dating from the fourteenth century is remark 
able for its clear statement of the doctrine (generally considered 
as Mahayanist) that merit acquired by devotion to the Buddha 
can be transferred. The king states that a woman called Bun- 
rak has transferred all her merit to the Queen and that he him 
self makes over all his merit to his teacher, to his relations and 
to all beings in unhappy states of existence. 

At some time in this period the centre of the Thai empire 

1 Fournereau, i. pp. 247, 273. B.E.F.E.O. 1917, No. 2, p. 29. 

2 See the texts in B.E.F.E.O. I.e. The Bodhisattvas are described as Ariyamette- 
yadinam dasannam Bodhisattanam. The vow to become a Buddha should it seems 
be placed in the mouth of the King, not of the Metropolitan as in Schmitt s trans 

3 See Fournereau, pp. 209 ff. Dharmasokaraja may perhaps be the same as 
Mahadharmaraja who reigned 1388-1415. But the word may also be a mere title 
applied to all kings of this dynasty, so that this may be another inscription of 
Sri Suryavamsa Rama. 

xxxvn] SIAM 85 

changed but divergent views have been held as to the date 1 
and character of this event. It would appear that in 1350 a 
Siamese subsequently known as King Ramadhipati, a descen 
dant of an ancient line of Thai princes, founded Ayuthia as a 
rival to Sukhothai. The site was not new, for it had long been 
known as Dvaravati and seems to be mentioned under that 
name by I-Ching (c. 680), but a new city was apparently con 
structed. The evidence of inscriptions indicates that Sukhothai 
was not immediately subdued by the new kingdom and did not 
cease to be a royal residence for some time. But still Ayuthia 
gradually became predominant and in the fifteenth century 
merited the title of capital of Siam. 

Its rise did not affect the esteem in which Buddhism was 
held, and it must have contained many great religious monu 
ments. The jungles which now cover the site of the city sur 
round the remnants of the Wat Somarokot, in which is a gigantic 
bronze Buddha facing with scornful calm the ruin which 
threatens him. The Wat Chern, which lies at some distance, 
contains another gigantic image. A curious inscription 2 en 
graved on an image of Siva found at Sukhothai and dated 
1510 A.D. asserts the identity of Buddhism and Brahmanism, 
but the popular feeling was in favour of the former. At Ayuthia 
the temples appear to be exclusively Buddhist and at Lophburi 
ancient buildings originally constructed for the Brahmanic cult 
have been adapted to Buddhist uses. It was in 1602 that the 
mark known as the footprint of Buddha was discovered at the 
place now called Phra-bat. 

Ayuthia was captured by the Burmese in 1568 and the king 
was carried into captivity but the disaster was not permanent, 
for at the end of the century the power of the Siamese reached its 
highest point and their foreign relations were extensive. We hear 
that five hundred Japanese assisted them to repulse a Burmese 
attack and that there was a large Japanese colony in Ayuthia. 
On the other hand when Hideyoshi invaded Korea in 1592, the 
Siamese offered to assist the Chinese. Europeans appeared first 
in 1511 when the Portuguese took Malacca. But on the whole 

1 1350 is the accepted date but M. Aymonier, J.A. 1903, pp. 185 ff. argues in 
favour of about 1460. See Fournereau, Ancien Siam, p. 242, inscription of 1426 A.D. 
and p. 186, inscription of 1510 described as Groupe de Sajjanalaya et Sukhodaya. 

3 Fournereau, vol. i. pp. 186 ff. 


the dealings of Siam with Europe were peaceful and both 
traders and missionaries were welcomed. The most singular 
episode in this international intercourse was the career of the 
Greek adventurer Constantine Phaulcon who in the reign of 
King Narai was practically Foreign Minister. In concert with 
the French missionaries he arranged an exchange of embassies 
(1682 and 1685) between Narai and Louis XIV, the latter 
having been led to suppose that the king and people of Siam 
were ready to embrace Christianity. But when the French 
envoys broached the subject of conversion, the king replied 
that he saw no reason to change the religion which his country 
men had professed for two thousand years, a chronological 
statement which it might be hard to substantiate. Still, great 
facilities were given to missionaries and further negotiations 
ensued, in the course of which the French received almost a 
monopoly of foreign trade and the right to maintain garrisons. 
But the death of Narai was followed by a reaction. Phaulcon 
died in prison and the French garrisons were expelled. Bud 
dhism probably nourished at this period for the Mahavamsa 
tells us that the king of Ceylon sent to Ayuthia for monks in 
1750 because religion there was pure and undefiled. 

Ayuthia continued to be the capital until 1767 when it was 
laid in ruins by the Burmese who, though Buddhists, did not 
scruple to destroy or deface the temples and statues with which 
it was ornamented. But the collapse of the Siamese was only 
local and temporary. A leader of Chinese origin named Phaya 
Tak Sin rallied their forces, cleared the Burmese out of the 
country and made Bangkok, officially described as the Capital 
of the Angels, the seat of Government. But he was deposed in 
1782 and one of the reasons for his fall seems to have been a 
too zealous reformation of Buddhism. In the troublous times 
following the collapse of Ayuthia the Church had become dis 
organized and corrupt, but even those who desired improvement 
would not assent to the powers which the king claimed over 
monks. A new dynasty (of which the sixth monarch is now on 
the throne) was founded in 1782 by Chao Phaya Chakkri. One 
of his first acts was to convoke a council for the revision of the 
Tipitaka and to build a special hall in which the text thus 
agreed on was preserved. His successor Phra: Buddha Lot La 
is considered the best poet that Siam has produced and it is 

xxxvn] SI AM 87 

probably the only country in the world where this distinction 
has fallen to the lot of a sovereign. The poet king had two sons, 
Phra : Nang : Klao, who ascended the throne after his death, and 
Mongkut, who during his brother s reign remained in a monas 
tery strictly observing the duties of a monk. He then became 
king and during his reign (1851-1868) Siam "may be said to 
have passed from the middle ages to modern times 1 ." It is a 
tribute to the excellence of Buddhist discipline that a prince 
who spent twenty-six years as a monk should have emerged as 
neither a bigot nor an impractical mystic but as an active, 
enlightened and progressive monarch. The equality and sim 
plicity of monastic life disposed him to come into direct touch 
with his subjects and to adopt straightforward measures which 
might not have occurred to one who had always been surrounded 
by a wall of ministers. While still a monk he founded a stricter 
sect which aimed at reviving the practice of the Buddha, but 
at the same time he studied foreign creeds and took pleasure 
in conversing with missionaries. He wrote several historical 
pamphlets and an English Grammar, and was so good a mathe 
matician that he could calculate the occurrence of an eclipse. 
When he became king he regulated the international position 
of Siam by concluding treaties of friendship and commerce with 
the principal European powers, thus showing the broad and 
liberal spirit in which he regarded politics, though a better 
acquaintance with the ways of Europeans might have made 
him refuse them extraterritorial privileges. He abolished the 
custom which obliged every one to keep indoors when the king 
went out and he publicly received petitions on every Uposatha 
day. He legislated against slavery 2 , gambling, drinking spirits 
and smoking opium and considerably improved the status of 
women. He also published edicts ordering the laity to inform 
the ecclesiastical authorities if they noticed any abuses in the 
monasteries. He caused the annals of Siam to be edited and 
issued numerous orders on archaeological and literary questions, 
in which, though a good Pali scholar, he deprecated the affected 
use of Pali words and enjoined the use of a terse and simple 
Siamese style, which he certainly wrote himself. He appears to 

1 0. Frankfurter, "King Mongkut," Journal of Siam Society, vol. I. 1904. 

2 But it was his son who first decreed in 1868 that no Siamese could be born a 
slave. Slavery for debt, though illegal, is said not to be practically extinct. 


have died of scientific zeal for he caught a fatal fever on a trip 
which he took to witness a total eclipse of the sun. 

He was succeeded by his son Chulalongkorn 1 (1868-1911), a 
liberal and enlightened ruler, who had the misfortune to lose 
much territory to the French on one side and the English on 
the other. For religion, his chief interest is that he published 
an edition of the Tipitaka. The volumes are of European style 
and printed in Siamese type, whereas Cambojan characters 
were previously employed for religious works. 

As I have already observed, there is not much difference 
between Buddhism in Burma and Siam. In mediaeval times a 
mixed form of religion prevailed in both countries and Siam 
was influenced by the Brahmanism and Mahayanism of Cam- 
bo j a. Both seem to have derived a purer form of the faith from 
Pegu, which was conquered by Anawrata in the eleventh cen 
tury and was the neighbour of Sukhothai so long as that king 
dom lasted. Both had relations with Ceylon and while vener 
ating her as the metropolis of the faith also sent monks to her 
in the days of her spiritual decadence. But even in externals 
some differences are visible. The gold and vermilion of Burma 
are replaced in Siam by more sober but artistic tints olive, 
dull purple and dark orange and the change in the colour 
scheme is accompanied by other changes in the buildings. 

A religious establishment in Siam consists of several edifices 
and is generally known as Wat 2 , followed by some special 
designation such as Wat Chang. Bangkok is full of such estab 
lishments mostly constructed on the banks of the river or canals. 
The entrance is usually guarded by gigantic and grotesque 
figures which are often lions, but at the Wat Pho in Bangkok 
the tutelary demons are represented by curious caricatures of 
Europeans wearing tall hats. The gate leads into several courts 
opening out of one another and not arranged on any fixed plan. 
The first is sometimes surrounded by a colonnade in which 
are set a long line of the Buddha s eighty disciples. The most 

1 =Culalankara. 

2 The word has been derived from Vata, a grove, but may it not be the Pali 
Vatthu, Sanskrit Vastu, a site or building? 

xxxvn] SIAM 89 

important building in a Wat is known as Bot 1 . It has a colon 
nade of pillars outside and is surmounted by three or four 
roofs, not much raised one above the other, and bearing finials 
of a curious shape, said to represent a snake s head 2 . It is also 
marked off by a circuit of eight stones, cut in the shape of Bo- 
tree leaves, which constitute a sima or boundary. It is in the 
Bot that ordinations and other acts of the Sangha are per 
formed. Internally it is a hall: the walls are often covered with 
paintings and at the end there is always a sitting figure of the 
Buddha 3 forming the apex of a pyramid, the lower steps of which 
are decorated with smaller images and curious ornaments, such 
as clocks under glass cases. 

Siamese images of the Buddha generally represent him as 
crowned by a long flame -like ornament called Siro rot 4 , probably 
representing the light supposed to issue from the prominence 
on his head. But the ornament sometimes becomes a veritable 
crown terminating in a spire, as do those worn by the kings of 
Camboja and Siam. On the left and right of the Buddha often 
stand figures of Phra: Mokha: la (Moggalana) and Phra: 
Saribut (Sariputta). It is stated that the Siamese pray to them 
as saints and that the former is invoked to heal broken limbs 5 . 
The Buddha when represented in frescoes is robed in red but 
his face and hands are of gold. Besides the Bot a Wat contains 
one or more wihans. The word is derived from Vihdra but has 
come to mean an image -house. I he wihans are halls not unlike 
the Bots but smaller. In a large Wat there is usually one con 
taining a gigantic recumbent image of the Buddha and they 
sometimes shelter Indian deities such as Yama. 

In most if not in all Wats there are structures known as 
Phra : chedi and Phra : prang. The former are simply the ancient 
cetiyas, called dagobas in Ceylon and zedis in Burma. They do 
not depart materially from the shape usual in other countries 

1 =Uposatha. 

2 These finials are very common on the roof ends of Siamese temples and 
palaces. It is strange that they also are found in conjunction with multiple roofs 
in Norwegian Churches of eleventh century. See de Beylie, Architecture hindoue 
dans Vextrdme Orient, pp. 47, 48. 

3 The Buddha is generally known as Phra: Khodom ( =Gotama). 

* In an old Siamese bronze from Kampeng Pet, figured in Grunwedel s Buddhist 
Art in India, p. 179, fig. 127, the Siro rot seems to be in process of evolution. 
5 P. A. Thompson, Lotus Land, 1906, p. 100. 


and sometimes, for instance in the gigantic chedi at Pra Pratom, 
the part below the spire is a solid bell-shaped dome. But Siam 
ese taste tends to make such buildings slender and elongate and 
they generally consist of stone discs of decreasing size, set one 
on the other in a pile, which assumes in its upper parts the 
proportions of a flagstaff rather than of a stone building. The 
Phra: prangs though often larger than the Phra: chedis are 
proportionally thicker and less elongate. They appear to be 
derived from the Brahmanic temple towers of Camboja which 
consist of a shrine crowned by a dome. But in Siam the shrine 
is often at some height above the ground and is reduced to 
small dimensions, sometimes becoming a mere niche. In large 
Phra: prangs it is approached by a flight of steps outside and 
above it rises the tower, terminating in a metal spire. But 
whereas in the Phra: chedis these spires are simple, in the Phra: 
prangs they bear three crescents representing the trident of 
Siva and appear like barbed arrows. A large Wat is sure to 
contain a number of these structures and may also comprise 
halls for preaching, a pavilion covering a model of Buddha s 
foot print, tanks for ablution and a bell tower. It is said that 
only royal Wats contain libraries and buildings called chatta 
mukh, which shelter a four-faced image of Brahma 1 . 

The monks are often housed in single chambers arranged 
round the courts of a Wat but sometimes in larger buildings 
outside it. The number of monks and novices living in one 
monastery is larger than in Burma, and according to the Bang 
kok Directory (1907) works out at an average of about 12. In 
the larger Wats this figure is considerably exceeded. Altogether 
there were 50,764 monks and 10,411 novices in 1907 2 , the pro 
vince of Ayuthia being decidedly the best provided with clergy. 
As in Burma, it is customary for every male to spend some 
time in a monastery, usually at the age of about 20, and two 
months is considered the minimum which is respectable. It is 
also common to enter a monastery for a short stay on the day 
when a parent is cremated. During the season of Vassa all 

1 Four images facing the four quarters are considered in Burma to represent the 
last four Buddhas and among the Jains some of the Tirthankaras are so represented, 
the legend being that whenever they preached they seemed to face their hearers 
on every side. 

2 These figures only take account of twelve out of the seventeen provinces. 




monks go out to collect alms but at other seasons only a few 
make the daily round and the food collected, as in Burma and 
Ceylon, is generally not eaten. But during the dry season it is 
considered meritorious for monks to make a pilgrimage to 
Phra Bat and while on the way to live on charity. They engage 
to some extent in manual work and occupy themselves with 
carpentering 1 . As in Burma, education is in their hands, and 
they also act as doctors, though their treatment has more to do 
with charms and faith cures than with medicine. 

As in Burma there are two sects, the ordinary unreformed 
body, and the rigorous and select communion founded by 
Mongkut and called Dhammayut. It aims at a more austere 
and useful life but in outward observances the only distinction 
seems to be that the Dhammayuts hold the alms-bowl in front 
of them in both hands, whereas the others hold it against the 
left hip with the left hand only. The hierarchy is well developed 
but somewhat secularized, though probably not more so than 
it was in India under Asoka. In the official directory where the 
departments of the Ministry of Public Instruction are enumer 
ated, the Ecclesiastical Department comes immediately after 
the Bacteriological, the two being clearly regarded as different 
methods of expelling evil spirits. The higher clerical appoint 
ments are made by the king. He names four Primates 2 , one of 
whom is selected as chief. The Primates with nineteen superior 
monks form the highest governing body of the Church. Below 
them are twelve dignitaries called Gurus, who are often heads 
of large Wats. There are also prelates who bear the Cambojan 
title of Burien equivalent to Mahacarya. They must have passed 
an examination in Pali and are chiefly consulted on matters of 

It will thus be seen that the differences between the churches 
of Burma, Ceylon and Siam are slight; hardly more than the 
local peculiarities which mark the Roman church in Italy, 
Spain, and England. Different opinions have been expressed as 
to the moral tone and conduct of Siamese monks and most 
critics state that they are somewhat inferior to their Burmese 

1 Thompson, Lotus Land, p. 120. 

2 They bear the title of Somdlt Phra: Chao Rajagama and have authority 
respectively over (a) ordinary Buddhists in northern Siam, (6) ordinary Buddhists 
in the south, (c) hermits, (d) the Dhammayut sect. 

E. in. 7 


brethren. The system by which a village undertakes to support 
a monk, provided that he is a reasonably competent school 
master and of good character, works well. But in the larger 
monasteries it is admitted that there are inmates who have 
entered in the hope of leading a lazy life and even fugitives from 
justice. Still the penalty for any grave offence is immediate 
expulsion by the ecclesiastical authorities and the offender is 
treated with extreme severity by the civil courts to which he 
then becomes amenable. 

The religious festivals of Siam are numerous and character 
istic. Many are Buddhist, some are Brahmanic, and some are 
royal. Uposatha days (wan phra:) are observed much as in 
Burma. The birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha 
(which are all supposed to have taken place on the 15th day of 
the 6th waxing moon) are celebrated during a three days 
festival. These three days are of peculiar solemnity and are 
spent in the discharge of religious duties, such as hearing ser 
mons and giving alms. But at most festivals religious observ 
ances are mingled with much picturesque but secular gaiety. 
In the morning the monks do not go their usual round 1 and the 
alms-bowls are arranged in a line within the temple grounds. 
The laity (mostly women) arrive bearing wicker trays on which 
are vessels containing rice and delicacies. They place a selection 
of these in each bowl and then proceed to the Bot where they 
hear the commandments recited and often vow to observe for 
that day some which are usually binding only on monks. While 
the monks are eating their meal the people repair to a river, 
which is rarely far distant in Siam, and pour water drop by 
drop saying "May the food which we have given for the use of 
the holy ones be of benefit to our fathers and mothers and to 
all of our relatives who have passed away." This rite is curiously 
in harmony with the injunctions of the Tirokuddasuttam in the 
Khuddakapatha, which is probably an ancient work 2 . The rest 
of the day is usually devoted to pious merrymaking, such as 
processions by day and illuminations by night. On some feasts 

1 For this and many other details I am indebted to P. A. Thompson, Lotus 
Land, p. 123. 

2 When gifts of food are made to monks on ceremonial occasions, they usually 
acknowledge the receipt by reciting verses 7 and 8 of this Sutta, commonly known 
as Yathd from the first word. 

xxxvn] 8IAM 93 

the laws against gambling are suspended and various games of 
chance are freely indulged in. Thus the New Year festival called 
Trut (or Krut) Thai lasts three days. On the first two days, 
especially the second, crowds fill the temples to offer flowers 
before the statues of Buddha and more substantial presents of 
food, clothes, etc., to the clergy. Well-to-do families invite 
monks to their houses and pass the day in listening to their 
sermons and recitations. Companies of priests are posted round 
the city walls to scare away evil spirits and with the same object 
guns are fired throughout the night. But the third day is devoted 
to gambling by almost the whole population except the monks. 
Not dissimilar is the celebration of the S6ngkran holidays, at 
the beginning of the official year. The special religious observ 
ance at this feast consists in bathing the images of Buddha and 
in theory the same form of watery respect is extended to aged 
relatives and monks. In practice its place is taken by gifts of 
perfumes and other presents. 

The rainy season is preceded and ended by holidays. During 
this period both monks and pious laymen observe their religious 
duties more strictly. Thus monks eat only once a day and then 
only what is put into their bowls and laymen observe some of 
the minor vows. At the end of the rains come the important 
holidays known as Thot Kathin 1 , when robes are presented to 
monks. This festival has long had a special importance in Siam. 
Thus Rama Khomheng in his inscription of A.D. 1292 2 describes 
the feast of Kathina which lasts a month. At the present day 
many thousands of robes are prepared in the capital alone so as 
to be ready for distribution in October and November, when 
the king or some deputy of high rank visits every temple and 
makes the offering in person. During this season Bangkok 
witnesses a series of brilliant processions. 

These festivals mentioned may be called Buddhist though 
their light-hearted and splendour-loving gaiety, their processions 
and gambling are far removed from the spirit of Gotama. 
Others however are definitely Brahmanic and in Bangkok are 
superintended by the Brahmans attached to the Court. Since 
the time of Mongkut Buddhist priests are also present as a sign 
that the rites, if not ordered by Buddhism, at least have its 

1 Kathina in Pali. See Mahavag. cap. vn. 

2 Fournereau, p. 225. 


countenance. Such is the Re k Na 1 , or ploughing festival. The 
king is represented by the Minister of Agriculture who formerly 
had the right to exact from all shops found open such taxes as 
he might claim for his temporary sovereignty. At present he 
is escorted in procession to Dusit 2 ,a royal park outside Bangkok, 
where he breaks ground with a plough drawn by two white 

Somewhat similar is the Thib-Chmg-Cha, or Swinging 
holidays, a two days festival which seems to be a harvest 
thanksgiving. Under the supervision of a high official, four 
Brahmans wearing tall conical hats swing on a board suspended 
from a huge frame about 100 ft high. Their object is to catch 
with their teeth a bag of money hanging at a little distance 
from the swing. When three or four sets of swingers have ob 
tained a prize in this way, they conclude the ceremony by 
sprinkling the ground with holy water contained in bullock 
horns. Swinging is one of the earliest Indian rites 3 and as part 
of the worship of Krishna it has lasted to the present day. Yet 
another Brahmanic festival is the Loi Kathong 4 , when miniature 
rafts and ships bearing lights and offerings are sent down the 
Menam to the sea. 

Another class of ceremonies may be described as royal, inas 
much as they are religious only in so far as they invoke religion 
to protect royalty. Such are the anniversaries of the birth and 
coronation of the king and the Thii Nam or drinking of the water 
of allegiance which takes place twice a year. At Bangkok all 
officials assemble at the Palace and there drink and sprinkle on 
their heads water in which swords and other weapons have been 
dipped thus invoking vengeance on themselves should they 
prove disloyal. Jars of this water are despatched to Governors 
who superintend the performance of the same ceremony in the 

1 The ploughing festival is a recognized imperial ceremony in China. In India 
ceremonies for private landowners are prescribed in the Grihya Sutras but I do not 
know if their performance by kings is anywhere definitely ordered. However in 
the Nidana Katha 270 the Buddha s father celebrates an imposing ploughing 

2 I.e. Tusita. Compare such English names descriptive of beautiful scenery as 
Heaven s Gate. 

3 See Keith, Alter ey a Aranyaka, pp. 174-178. The ceremony there described 
undoubtedly originated in a very ancient popular festival. 

* I.e. float-raft. Most authors give the word as Krathong, but Pallegoix prefers 




provincial capitals. It is only after the water has been drunk 
that officials receive their half yearly salary. Monks are excused 
from drinking it but the chief ecclesiastics of Bangkok meet 
in the Palace temple and perform a service in honour of the 

Besides these public solemnities there are a number of 
domestic festivals derived from the twelve Samskaras of the 
Hindus. Of these only three or four are kept up by the nations 
of Indo-China, namely the shaving of the first hair of a child a 
month after birth, the giving of a name, and the piercing of the 
ears for earrings. This last is observed in Burma and Laos, but 
not in Siam and Camboja where is substituted for it the Kon 
Chuk or shaving of the topknot, which is allowed to grow until 
the eleventh or thirteenth year. This ceremony, which is per 
formed on boys and girls alike, is the most important event in 
the life of a young Siamese and is celebrated by well-to-do 
parents with lavish expenditure. Those who are indigent often 
avail themselves of the royal bounty, for each year a public 
ceremony is performed in one of the temples of Bangkok at 
which poor children receive the tonsure gratis. An elaborate 
description of the tonsure rites has been published by Gerini 1 . 
They are of considerable interest as showing how closely 
Buddhist and Brahmanic rites are intertwined in Siamese 
family life. 

Marriages are celebrated with a feast to which monks are 
invited but are not regarded as religious ceremonies. The dead 
are usually disposed of by cremation, but are often kept some 
time, being either embalmed or simply buried and exhumed 
subsequently. Before cremation the coffin is usually placed 
within the grounds of a temple. The monks read Suttas over it 
and it is said 2 that they hold ribbons which enter into the 
coffin and are supposed to communicate to the corpse the merit 
acquired by the recitations and prayers. 

In the preceding pages mention has often been made not 
only of Brahmanic rites but of Brahman priests 3 . These are 

1 Chulakantamangalam, Bangkok, 1893. 

2 P. A. Thompson, Lotus Land, p. 134. 

3 For the Brahinans of Siam see Frankfurter, Oriental. Archiv. 1913, pp. 196-7. 


still to be found in Bangkok attached to the Court and possibly 
in other cities. They dress in white and have preserved many 
Hindu usages but are said to be poor Sanskrit scholars. Indeed 
Gerini 1 seems to say that they use Pali in some of their recita 
tions. Their principal duty is to officiate at Court functions, but 
wealthy families invite them to take part in domestic rites, and 
also to cast horoscopes and fix lucky days. It is clear that the 
presence of these Brahmans is no innovation. Brahmanism 
must have been strong in Siam when it was a province of Cam- 
boja, but in both countries gave way before Buddhism. Many 
rites, however, connected with securing luck or predicting the 
future were too firmly established to be abolished, and, as 
Buddhist monks were unwilling to perform them 2 or not 
thought very competent, the Brahmans remained and were 
perhaps reinforced from time to time by new importations, for 
there are still Brahman colonies in Ligor and other Malay 
towns. Siamese lawbooks, like those of Burma, seem to be 
mainly adaptations of Indian Dharmasastras. 

On a cursory inspection, Siamese Buddhism, especially as 
seen in villages, seems remarkably free from alien additions. 
But an examination of ancient buildings, of royal temples in 
Bangkok and royal ceremonial, suggests on the contrary that 
it is a mixed faith in which the Brahmanic element is strong. 
Yet though this element appeals to the superstition of the 
Siamese and their love of pageantry, I think that as in Burma 
it has not invaded the sphere of religion and ethics more than 
the Pitakas themselves allow. In art and literature its influence 
has been considerable. The story of the Ramayana is illustrated 
on the cloister walls of the royal temple at Bangkok and 
Indian mythology has supplied a multitude of types to the 
painter and sculptor; such as Yomma: rat (Yama), Phaya Man 
(Mara), Phra: In (Indra). These are all deities known to the 
Pitakas but the sculptures or images 3 in Siamese temples also 

1 Chulakantamangala, p. 56. 

2 They are mostly observances such as Gotama would have classed among "low 
arts" (tiracchanavijja). At present the monks of Siam deal freely in charms and 
exorcisms but on important occasions public opinion seems to have greater con 
fidence in the skill and power of Brahmans. 

3 King 6ri Suryavamsa Rama relates in an inscription of about 1365 how he 
set up statues of Paramesvara and Vishnukarma (?) and appointed Brahmans to 
serve them. 

xxxvii] SIAM 97 

include Ganesa, Phra: Narai (Narayana or Vishnu) riding on 
the Garuda and Phra: Isuen (Siva) riding on a bull. There is a 
legend that the Buddha and Siva tried which could make him 
self invisible to the other. At last the Buddha sat on Siva s 
head and the god being unable to see him acknowledged his 
defeat. This story is told to explain a small figure which Siva 
bears on his head and recalls the legend found in the Pitakas 1 
that the Buddha made himself invisible to Brahma but that 
Brahma had not the corresponding power. Lingas are still 
venerated in a few temples, for instance at Wat Pho in Bangkok, 
but it would appear that the majority (e.g. those found at Pra 
Pratom and Lophburi) are survivals of ancient Brahmanic 
worship and have a purely antiquarian importance. The Brah 
manic cosmology which makes Mt Meru the centre of this 
Universe is generally accepted in ecclesiastical treatises and 
paintings, though the educated Siamese may smile at it, and 
when the topknot of a Siamese prince is cut off, part of the 
ceremony consists in his being received by the king dressed as 
Siva on the summit of a mound cut in the traditional shape of 
Mt Kailasa. 

Like the Nats of Burma, Siam has a spirit population known 
as Phis 2 . The name is occasionally applied to Indian deities, 
but the great majority of Phis fall into two classes, namely, 
ghosts of the dead and nature spirits which, though dangerous, 
do not rise above the position of good or bad fairies. In the 
first class are included the Phi Pret, who have the character 
istics as well as the name of the Indian Pretas, and also a 
multitude of beings who like European ghosts, haunt houses 
and behave in a mysterious but generally disagreeable manner. 
The Phi am is apparently our nightmare. The ghosts of children 
dying soon after birth are apt to kill their mothers and in 
general women are liable to be possessed by Phis. The ghosts 
of those who have died a violent death are dangerous but it 
would seem that Siamese magicians know how to utilize them 
as familiar spirits. The better sort of ghosts are known as Chao 
Phi and shrines called San Chao are set up in their honour. It 
does not however appear that there is any hierarchy of Phis 
like the thirty-seven Nats of Burma. 

1 Maj. Nik. 47. 

2 Siam Society, vol. iv. part ii. 1907. Some Siamese ghost-lore by A. J. Irwin. 


Among those Phis who are not ghosts of the dead the most 
important is the Phi ruen or guardian spirit of each house. 
Frequently a little shrine is erected for him at the top of a pole. 
There are also innumerable Phis in the jungle mostly malevolent 
and capable of appearing either in human form or as a dangerous 
animal. But the tree spirits are generally benevolent and when 
their trees are cut down they protect the houses that are made 
of them. 

Thus the Buddhism of Siam, like that of Burma, has a 
certain admixture of Brahmanism and animism. The Brah- 
manism is perhaps more striking than in Burma on account of 
the Court ceremonies: the belief in spirits, though almost 
universal, seems to be more retiring and less conspicuous. Yet 
the inscription of Rama Komheng mentioned above asserts 
emphatically that the prosperity of the Empire depends on due 
honour being shown to a certain mountain spirit 1 . 

It is pretty clear that the first introduction of Hinayanist 
Buddhism into Siam was from Southern Burma and Pegu, but 
that somewhat later Ceylon was accepted as the standard of 
orthodoxy. A learned thera who knew the Sinhalese Tipitaka 
was imported thence, as well as a branch of the Bo-tree. But 
Siamese patriotism flattered itself by imagining that the national 
religion was due to personal contact with the Buddha, although 
not even early legends can be cited in support of such traditions. 
In 1602 a mark in the rocks, now known as the Phra: Bat, was 
discovered in the hills north of Ayuthia and identified as a 
footprint of the Buddha similar to that found on Adam s Peak 
and in other places. Burma and Ceylon both claim the honour 
of a visit from the Buddha but the Siamese go further, for it is 
popularly believed that he died at Praten, a little to the north 
of Phra Pat horn, on a spot marked by a slab of rock under great 
trees 2 . For this reason when the Government of India presented 

1 Jour. Siam Soc, 1909, p. 28. "In yonder mountain is a demon spirit Phra 
Khaphung that is greater than every other spirit in this realm. If any Prince 
ruling this realm reverences him well with proper offerings, this realm stands firm, 
this realm prospers. If the spirit be not reverenced well, if the offerings be not 
right, the spirit in the mountain does not protect, does not regard: this realm 

2 The most popular life of the Buddha in Siamese is called Pa:thomma Som- 
phothiyan, translated by Alabaster in The Wheel of the Law. But like the Lalita 
vistara and other Indian lives on which it is modelled it stops short at the enlighten- 

xxxvii] SIAM 99 

the king of Siam with the relics found in the Piprava vase, the 
gift though received with honour, aroused little enthusiasm 
and was placed in a somewhat secluded shrine 1 . 

ment. Another well-known religious book is the Traiphum (=Tribhumi), an 
account of the universe according to Hindu principles, compiled in 1776 from various 
ancient works. 

The Pali literature of Siam is not very large. Some account of it is given by 
Coedes in B.E.F.E.O. 1915, m. pp. 39-46. 

1 When in Bangkok in 1907 I saw in a photographer s shop a photograph of 
the procession which escorted these relics to their destination. It was inscribed 
"Arrival of Buddha s tooth from Kandy." This shows how deceptive historical 
evidence may be. The inscription was the testimony of an eye -witness and yet it 
was entirely wrong. 


THE French Protectorate of Camboja corresponds roughly to 
the nucleus, though by no means to the whole extent of the 
former Empire of the Khmers. The affinities of this race have 
given rise to considerable discussion and it has been proposed 
to connect them with the Munda tribes of India on one side 
and with the Malays and Polynesians on the other 2 . They are 
allied linguistically to the Mons or Talaings of Lower Burma 
and to the Khasias of Assam, but it is not proved that they are 
similarly related to the Annamites, and recent investigators are 
not disposed to maintain the Mon-Annam family of languages 

1 See among other authorities : 

(a) E. Aymonier, Le Cambodge, Paris, 3 vols. 1900, 1904 (cited as Aymonier). 
(6) A. Barth, Inscriptions Sanscrites du Cambodge (Notices et extraits des MSS. 
de la Bibliot. Nat.), Paris, 1885 (cited as Corpus, i.). 

(c) A. Bergaigne, Inscriptions Sanscrites de Campd et du Cambodge (in same 

series), 1893 (cited as Corpus, 11.). 

(d) L. Finot, " Buddhism in Indo-China," Buddhist Review, Oct. 1 909. 

(e) G. Maspero, L Empire Khmer, Phnom Penh, 1904 (cited as Maspero). 
(/)P. Pelliot, "Memoires sur les Coutumes de Cambodge par Tcheou Ta- 

kouan, traduits et annotes," B.E.F.E.O. 1902, pp. 123-177 (cited as 

Pelliot, Tcheou Ta-kouan). 

(g) Id. "Le Founan," B.E.F.E.O. 1903, pp. 248-303 (cited as Pelliot, Founan). 
(h) Articles on various inscriptions by G. Coedes in J.A. 1908, xi. p. 203, xn. 

p. 213; 1909, xm. p. 467 and p. 511. 

(i) Bulletin de la Commission Archeologique de VIndochine, 1908 onwards. 
(j) Le Bayon d Angkor Thorn, Mission Henri Dufour, 1910-1914. 

Besides the articles cited above the Bulletin de Vtfcole Francaise d Ex- 

treme Orient (quoted as B.E.F.E.O.) contains many others dealing 

with the religion and archaeology of Camboja. 
(k) L. Finot, Notes d fipigraphie Indo-Chinoise, 1916. 

See for literature up to 1909, G. Coedes, Bibliotheque raisonnee des 

travaux relatifs d V Archeologie du Cambodge et du Champa. Paris, 

Imprimerie Nationale, 1909. 

2 See especially P. W. Schmitt, Die Mon-Khmer Volker. Ein Bindeglied 
zwischen Volkern Zentral-Asiens und Austronesiens. Braunschweig, 1906. 

CH. xxxvm] CAMBOJA 101 

proposed by Logan and others. But the undoubted similarity 
of the Mon and Khmer languages suggests that the ancestors of 
those who now speak them were at one time spread over the 
central and western parts of Indo-China but were subsequently 
divided and deprived of much territory by the southward 
invasions of the Thais in the middle ages. 

The Khmers also called themselves Kambuja or Kamvuja 
and their name for the country is still either Srok Kampuchea 
or Srok Khmer 1 . Attempts have been made to find a Malay 
origin for this name Kambuja but native tradition regards it 
as a link with India and affirms that the race is descended from 
Kambu Svayambhuva and Mera or Pera who was given to him 
by Siva as wife 2 . This legend hardly proves that the Khmer 
people came from India but they undoubtedly received thence 
their civilization, their royal family and a considerable number 
of Hindu immigrants, so that the mythical ancestor of their 
kings naturally came to be regarded as the progenitor of the 
race. The Chinese traveller Chou Ta-kuan (1296 A.D.) says that 
the country known to the Chinese as Chen-la is called by the 
natives Kan-po-chih but that the present dynasty call it Kan- 
p u-chih on the authority of Sanskrit (Hsi-fan) works. The 
origin of the name Chen-la is unknown. 

There has been much discussion respecting the relation of 
Chen-la to the older kingdom of Fu-nan which is the name given 
by Chinese historians until the early part of the seventh century 
to a state occupying the south-eastern and perhaps central 
portions of Indo-China. It has been argued that Chen-la is 
simply the older name of Fu-nan and on the other hand that 
Fu-nan is a wider designation including several states, one of 
which, Chen-la or Camboja, became paramount at the expense 
of the others 3 . But the point seems unimportant for their 

1 Cambodge is the accepted French spelling of this country s name. In English 
Kamboja, Kambodia, Camboja and Cambodia are all found. The last is the most 
usual but di is not a good way of representing the sound of j as usually heard in 
this name. I have therefore preferred Camboja. 

2 See the inscription of Bakse, Camkron, J.A. xm. 1909, pp. 468, 469, 497. 

3 The Sui annals (Pelliot, Founan, p. 272) state that "Chen-la lies to the west 

of Lin-yi : it was originally a vassal state of Fu-nan The name of the king s 

family was Kshatriya: his personal name was Citrasena: his ancestors progressively 
acquired the sovereignty of the country: Citrasena seized Fu-nan and reduced it 
to submission." This seems perfectly clear and we know from Cambojan inscrip 
tions that Citrasena was the personal name of the king who reigned as 


religious history with which we have to deal. In religion and 
general civilization both were subject to Indian influence and 
it is not recorded that the political circumstances which turned 
Fu-nan into Chen-la were attended by any religious revolution. 
The most important fact in the history of these countries, 
as in Champa and Java, is the presence from early times of 
Indian influence as a result of commerce, colonization, or con 
quest. Orientalists have only recently freed themselves from 
the idea that the ancient Hindus, and especially their religion, 
were restricted to the limits of India. In mediaeval times this 
was true. Emigration was rare and it w r as only in the nineteenth 
century that the travelling Hindu became a familiar and in 
some British colonies not very welcome visitor. Even now 
Hindus of the higher caste evade rather than deny the rule 
which forbids them to cross the ocean 1 . But for a long while 
Hindus have frequented the coast of East Africa 2 and in earlier, c. 600 A.D. But it would appear from the inscriptions that it 
was his predecessor Bhavavarraan who made whatever change occurred in the 
relations of Camboja to Fu-nan and in any case it is not clear who were the inhabi 
tants of Fu-nan if not Cambojans. Perhaps Maspero is right in suggesting that 
Fu-nan was something like imperial Germany (p. 25), "Si le roi de Baviere s emparait 
de la couronne imperiale, rien ne serait change en Allemagne que la famille regnante." 

1 It is remarkable that the Baudhayana-dharma-sutra enumerates going to sea 
among the customs peculiar to the North (i. 1, 2, 4) and thei. (n. 1, 2, 2) classes 
making voyages by sea as the first of the offences which cause loss of caste. This 
seems to indicate that the emigrants from India came mainly from the North, but 
it would be rash to conclude that in times of stress or enthusiasm the Southerners 
did not follow their practice. A passage in the second chapter of the Kautiliya 
Arthasastra has been interpreted as referring to the despatch of colonists to foreign 
countries, but it probably contemplates nothing more than the transfer of popula 
tion from one part of India to another. See Finot, B.E.F.E.O. 1912, No. 8. But 
the passage at any rate shows that the idea of the King being able to transport a 
considerable mass of population was familiar in ancient India. Jataka 466 con 
tains a curious story of a village of carpenters who being unsuccessful in trade 
built a ship and emigrated to an island in the ocean. It is clear that there must 
have been a considerable seafaring population in India in early times for the Rig 
Veda (ii. 48, 3; I. 56, 2; I. 116, 3), the Mahabharata and the Jatakas allude to the 
love of gain which sends merchants across the sea and to shipwrecks. Sculptures 
at Salsette ascribed to about 150 A.D. represent a shipwreck. Ships were depicted 
in the paintings of Ajanta and also occur on the coins of the Andhra King Yajuasri 
(c. 200 A.D.) and in the sculptures of Boroboedoer. The Digha Nikaya (xi. 85) 
speaks of sea-going ships which when lost let loose a land sighting bird. Much 
information is collected in Radhakumud Mookerji s History of Indian Shipping, 

a Voyages are still regularly made in dhows between the west coast of India and 
Zanzibar or Mombasa and the trade appears to be old. 

xxxvm] CAMBOJA 103 

centuries their traders, soldiers and missionaries covered con 
siderable distances by sea. The Jatakas * mention voyages to 
Babylon: Vijaya and Mahinda reached Ceylon in the fifth and 
third centuries B.C. respectively. There is no certain evidence 
as to the epoch when Hindus first penetrated beyond the Malay 
peninsula, but Java is mentioned in the Ramayana 2 : the earliest 
Sanskrit inscriptions of Champa date from our third or perhaps 
second century, and the Chinese Annals of the Tsin indicate 
that at a period considerably anterior to that dynasty there 
were Hindus in Fu-nan 3 . It is therefore safe to conclude that 
they must have reached ,these regions about the beginning of 
the Christian era and, should any evidence be forthcoming, 
there is no reason why this date should not be put further back. 
At present we can only say that the establishment of Hindu 
kingdoms probably implies earlier visits of Hindu traders and 
that voyages to the south coast of Indo-China and the Archi 
pelago were probably preceded by settlements on the Isthmus 
of Kra, for instance at Ligor. 

The motives which prompted this eastward movement have 
been variously connected with religious persecution in India, 
missionary enterprise, commerce and political adventure. The 
first is the least probable. There is little evidence for the sys 
tematic persecution of Buddhists in India and still less for the 
persecution of Brahmans by Buddhists. Nor can these Indian 
settlements be regarded as primarily religious missions. The 
Brahmans have always been willing to follow and supervise the 
progress of Hindu civilization, but they have never shown any 
disposition to evangelize foreign countries apart from Hindu 
settlements in them. The Buddhists had this evangelistic temper 
and the journeys of their missionaries doubtless stimulated 
other classes to go abroad, but still no inscriptions or annals 
suggest that the Hindu migrations to Java and Camboja were 
parallel to Mahinda s mission to Ceylon. Nor is there any 
reason to think that they were commanded or encouraged by 

1 See Jataka 339 for the voyage to Baveru or Babylon. Jatakas 360 and 442 
mention voyages to Suvannabhumi or Lower Burma from Bharukaccha and from 
Benares down the river. The Milinda Panha (vi. 21) alludes to traffic with China 
by sea. 

2 Ram. iv. 40, 30. 

3 Pelliot, Founan, p. 254. The Western and Eastern Tsin reigned from 265 to 
419 A.D. 


Indian Rajas, for no mention of their despatch has been found 
in India, and no Indian state is recorded to have claimed 
suzerainty over these colonies. It therefore seems likely that 
they were founded by traders and also by adventurers who 
followed existing trade routes and had their own reasons for 
leaving India. In a country where dynastic quarrels were fre 
quent and the younger sons of Rajas had a precarious tenure of 
life, such reasons can be easily imagined. In Camboja we find 
an Indian dynasty established after a short struggle, but in 
other countries, such as Java and Sumatra, Indian civilization 
endured because it was freely adopted by native chiefs and not 
because it was forced on them as a result of conquest. 

The inscriptions discovered in Camboja and deciphered by 
the labours of French savants offer with one lacuna (about 
650-800 A.D.) a fairly continuous history of the country from 
the sixth to the thirteenth centuries. For earlier periods we 
depend almost entirely on Chinese accounts which are frag 
mentary and not interested in anything but the occasional rela 
tions of China with Fu-nan. The annals of the Tsin dynasty 1 
already cited say that from 265 A.D. onwards the kings of Fu-nan 
sent several embassies to the Chinese Court, adding that the 
people have books and that their writing resembles that of the 
Hu. The Hu are properly speaking a tribe of Central Asia, but 
the expression doubtless means no more than alphabetic writing 
as opposed to Chinese characters and such an alphabet can 
hardly have had other than an Indian origin. Originally, adds 
the Annalist, the sovereign was a woman, but there came a 
stranger called Hun-Hui who worshipped the Devas and had 
had a dream in which one of them gave him a bow 2 and ordered 
him to sail for Fu-nan. He conquered the country and married 
the Queen but his descendants deteriorated and one Fan-Hsiin 
founded another dynasty. The annals of the Ch i dynasty 
(479-501) give substantially the same story but say that the 
stranger was called Hun-T ien (which is probably the correct 
form of the name) and that he came from Chi or Chiao, an 
unknown locality. The same annals state that towards the end 

1 Pelliot, Founan, p. 254. Most of the references to Chinese annals are taken 
from this valuable paper. 

2 The inscription of Mi-son relates how Kaundinya planted at Bharapura ( ? in 
Camboja) a javelin given to him by Asvatthaman. 

xxxvm] CAMBOJA 105 

of the fifth century the king of Fu-nan who bore the family 
name of Ch iao-ch en-ju 1 or Kaundinya and the personal name 
of She-yeh-po-mo (Jayavarman) traded with Canton. A Bud 
dhist monk named Nagasena returned thence with some Cam- 
bo j an merchants and so impressed this king with his account of 
China that he was sent back in 484 to beg for the protection of 
the Emperor. The king s petition and a supplementary paper 
by Nagasena are preserved in the annals. They seem to be an 
attempt to represent the country as Buddhist, while explaining 
that Mahesvara is its tutelary deity. 

The Liang annals also state that during the Wu dynasty 
(222-280) Fan Chan, then king of Fu-nan, sent a relative 
named Su-Wu on an embassy to India, to a king called Mao-lun, 
which probably represents Murunda, a people of the Ganges 
valley mentioned by the Puranas and by Ptolemy. This king 
despatched a return embassy to Fu-nan and his ambassadors 
met there an official sent by the Emperor of China 2 . The early 
date ascribed to these events is noticeable. 

The Liang annals contain also the following statements. 
Between the years 357 and 424 A.D. named as the dates of 
embassies sent to China, an Indian Brahman called Ch iao- 
ch en-ju (Kaundinya) heard a supernatural voice bidding him 
go and reign in Fu-nan. He met with a good reception and was 
elected king. He changed the customs of the country and made 
them conform to those of India. One of his successors, Jayavar 
man, sent a coral image of Buddha in 503 to the Emperor 
Wu-ti (502-550). The inhabitants of Fu-nan are said to make 
bronze images of the heavenly genii with two or four heads 
and four or eight arms. Jayavarman was succeeded by a 
usurper named Liu-t o-pa-mo (Rudravarman) who sent an 
image made of sandal wood to the Emperor in 519 and in 539 
offered him a hair of the Buddha twelve feet long. The Sui 
annals (589-618) state that Citrasena, king of Chen-la, con 
quered Fu-nan and was succeeded by his son Isanasena. 

Two monks of Fu-nan are mentioned among the translators 
of the Chinese scriptures 3 , namely, Sarighapala and Mandra. 

1 This is the modern reading of the characters in Peking, but Julien s Methode 
justifies the transcription Kau-di-nya. 

2 See S. Levi in Melanges Charles de Harlez, p. 176. Deux peuples meconnus. 
i. Les Murundas. 3 Nanjio Catalogue) p. 422. 


Both arrived in China during the first years of the sixth century 
and their works are extant. The pilgrim I-Ching who returned 
from India in 695 says 1 that to the S.W. of Champa lies the 
country Po-nan, formerly called Fu-nan, which is the southern 
corner of Jambudvipa. He says that "of old it was a country 
the inhabitants of which lived naked; the people were mostly 
worshippers of devas and later on Buddhism flourished there, 
but a wicked king has now expelled and exterminated them all 
and there are no members of the Buddhist brotherhood at all." 

These data from Chinese authorities are on the whole con 
firmed by the Cambojan inscriptions. Rudravarman is men 
tioned 2 and the kings claim to belong to the race of Kaundinya 3 . 
This is the name of a Brahman gotra, but such designations 
were often borne by Kshatriyas and the conqueror of Camboja 
probably belonged to that caste. It may be affirmed with some 
certainty that he started from south-eastern India and possibly 
he sailed from Mahabalipur (also called the Seven Pagodas). 
Masulipatam was also a port of embarcation for the East and was 
connected with Broach by a trade route running through Tagara, 
now Ter in the Nizam s dominions. By using this road, it was 
possible to avoid the west coast, which was infested by pirates. 

The earliest Cambojan inscriptions date from the beginning 
of the seventh century and are written in an alphabet closely 
resembling that of the inscriptions in the temple of Papanatha 
at Pattadkal in the Bijapur district 4 . They are composed in 

1 I-Tsing, trans. Takakusu, p. 12. 2 Corpus, I. p. 65. 

3 Carpus, i. pp. 84, 89, 90, and Jour. Asiatique, 1882, p. 152. 

4 When visiting Badami, Pattadkal and Aihole in 1912 I noted the folio wing 
resemblances between the temples of that district and those of Camboja. (a) The 
chief figures are Harihara, Vamana and Nrisimha. At Pattadkal, as at Angkor 
Wat, the reliefs on the temple wall represent the Churning of the Sea and scenes 
from the Ramayana. (b) Large blocks of stone were used for building and after 
being put in their positions were carved in situ, as is shown by unfinished work in 
places, (c) Medallions containing faces are frequent, (d) The architectural scheme 
is not as in Dravidian temples, that is to say larger outside and becoming smaller 
as one proceeds towards the interior. There is generally a central tower attached 
to a hall, (e) The temples are often raised on a basement. (/) Mukhalingas and 
koshas are still used in worship, (g) There are verandahs resembling those at 
Angkor Wat. They have sloping stone roofs, sculptures in relief on the inside wall 
and a series of windows in the outside wall, (h) The doors of the Linga shrines have 
a serpentine ornamentation and are very like those of the Bayon. (i) A native 
gentleman told me that he had seen temples with five towers in this neighbourhood, 
but I have not seen them myself. 

xxxvm] CAMBOJA 107 

Sanskrit verse of a somewhat exuberant style, which revels in 
the commonplaces of Indian poetry. The deities most frequently 
mentioned are Siva by himself and Siva united with Vishnu in 
the form Hari-Hara. The names of the kings end in Varman 
and this termination is also specially frequent in names of the 
Pallava dynasty 1 . The magnificent monuments still extant 
attest a taste for architecture on a large scale similar to that 
found among the Dravidians. These and many other indications 
justify the conclusion that the Indian civilization and religion 
which became predominant in Camboja were imported from the 

The Chinese accounts distinctly mention two invasions, one 
under Ch iao-ch en-ju (Kaundinya) about 400 A.D. and one con 
siderably anterior to 265 under Hun-T ien. It might be supposed 
that this name also represents Kaundinya and that there is a 
confusion of dates. But the available evidence is certainly in 
favour of the establishment of Hindu civilization in Fu-nan 
long before 400 A.D. and there is nothing improbable in the 
story of the two invasions and even of two Kaundinyas. 
Maspero suggests that the first invasion came from Java and 
formed part of the same movement which founded the kingdom 
of Champa. It is remarkable that an inscription in Sanskrit 
found on the east coast of Borneo and apparently dating from 
the fifth century mentions Kundagga as the grandfather of the 
reigning king, and the Liang annals say that the king of Poli 
(probably in Borneo but according to some in Sumatra) was 
called Ch iao-ch en-ju. It seems likely that the Indian family of 
Kaundinya was established somewhere in the South Seas (per 
haps in Java) at an early period and thence invaded various 
countries at various times. But Fu-nan is a vague geographical 
term and it may be that Hun-T ien founded a Hindu dynasty 
in Champa. 

1 E.g. Mahendravarman, Narasinhavarman, Paramesvaravarman, etc. It may 
be noticed that Pattadkal is considerably to the N.W. of Madras and that the 
Pallavas are supposed to have come from the northern part of the present Madras 
Presidency. Though the Hindus who emigrated to Camboja probably embarked in 
the neighbourhood of Madras, they may have come from countries much further 
to the north. Yarman is recognized as a proper termination of Kshatriya names, 
but it is remarkable that it is found in all the Sanskrit names of Cambojan kings 
and is very common in Pallava names. The name of Asvatthaman figures in the 
mythical genealogies of both the Pallavas and the kings of Champa or perhaps of 
Camboja, see B.E.F.E.O. 1904, p. 923. 

E. in. 8 


It is clear that during the period of the inscriptions the 
religion of Camboja was a mixture of Brahmanism and Bud 
dhism, the only change noticeable being the preponderance of 
one or other element in different centuries. But it would be 
interesting to know the value of I-Ching s statement that 
Buddhism flourished in Fu-naii in early times and was then 
subverted by a wicked king, by whom Bhavavarman 1 may be 
meant. Primd facie the statement is not improbable, for there 
is no reason why the first immigrants should not have been 
Buddhists, but the traditions connecting these countries with 
early Hinayanist missionaries are vague. Taranatha 2 states 
that the disciples of Vasubandhu introduced Buddhism into the 
country of Koki (Indo-China) but his authority does not count 
for much in such a matter. The statement of I-Ching however 
has considerable weight, especially as the earliest inscription 
found in Champa (that of Vocan) appears to be inspired by 

It may be well to state briefly the chief facts of Cambojan 
history 3 before considering the phases through which religion 
passed. Until the thirteenth century our chief authorities are 
the Sanskrit and Khmer inscriptions, supplemented by notices 
in the Chinese annals.. The Khmer inscriptions are often only 
a translation or paraphrase of Sanskrit texts found in the same 
locality and, as a rule, are more popular, having little literary 
pretension. They frequently contain lists of donations or of 
articles to be supplied by the population for the upkeep of 
pious foundations. After the fourteenth century we have Cam 
bojan annals of dubious value and we also find inscriptions in 
Pali or in modern Cambojan. The earliest Sanskrit inscriptions 
date from the beginning of the seventh century and mention 
works undertaken in 604 and 624. 

The first important king is Bhavavarman (c. 500 A.D.), a 

1 Some authorities think that Kaundinya is meant by the wicked king, but he 
lived about 300 years before I-Ching s visit and the language seems to refer to more 
recent events. Although Bhavavarman is not known to have been a religious 
innovator he appears to have established a new order of things in Camboja and his 
inscriptions show that he was a zealous worshipper of Siva and other Indian deities. 
It would be even more natural if I-Ching referred to Isanavarman (c. 615) or Jaya- 
varman I (c. 650), but there is no proof that these kings were anti-buddhist. 

2 Schiefner, p. 262. 3 See Maspero, U Empire Khmer, pp. 24 ff. 

xxxvm] CAMBOJA 109 

conqueror and probably a usurper, who extended his kingdom 
considerably towards the west. His career of conquest was con 
tinued by Mahavarman (also called Citrasena), by Isanavarman 
and by Jayavarman 1 . This last prince was on the throne in 
667, but his reign is followed by a lacuna of more than a century. 
Notices in the Chinese annals, confirmed by the double gene 
alogies given for this period in later inscriptions, indicate that 
Camboja was divided for some time into two states, one littoral 
and the other inland. 

Clear history begins again with the reign of Jayavarman II 
(802-869). Later sovereigns evidently regard him as the great 
national hero and he lives in popular legend as the builder of a 
magnificent palace, Beng Mealea, whose ruins still exist 2 and as 
the recipient of the sacred sword of Indra which is preserved at 
Phnom-penh to this day. We are told that he "came from 
Java," which is more likely to be some locality in the Malay 
Peninsula or Laos than the island of that name. It is possible 
that Jayavarman was carried away captive to this region but 
returned to found a dynasty independent of it 3 . 

The ancient city of Angkor has probably done more to make 
Camboja known in Europe than any recent achievements of 
the Khmer race. In the centre of it stands the temple now called 
Bayon and outside its walls are many other edifices of which 
the majestic Angkor Wat is the largest and best preserved. 

1 Perhaps a second Bhavavarman came between these last two kings; see 
Coedes in B.E.F.E.O. 1904, p 691. 

2 See Mecquenem in B.E.F.E.O. 1913, No. 2. 

3 But the captivity is only an inference and not a necessary one. Finot suggests 
that the ancient royal house of Fu-nan may have resided at Java and have claimed 
suzerain rights over Camboja which Jayavarman somehow abolished. The only 
clear statements on the question are those in the Sdok Kak Thorn inscription, 
Khmer text c. 72, which tell us that Camboja had been dependent on Java and 
that Jayavarman II instituted a special state cult as a sign that this dependence 
had come to an end. 

It is true that the Hindu colonists of Camboja may have come from the island 
of Java, yet no evidence supports the idea that Camboja was a dependency of the 
island about 800 A.D. and the inscriptions of Champa seem to distinguish clearly 
between Yavadvipa (the island) and the unknown country called Java. See Finot, 
Notes d Epig. pp. 48 and 240. Hence it seems unlikely that the barbarous pirates 
(called the armies of Java) who invaded Champa in 787 (see the inscription of 
Yang Tikuh) were from the island. The Siamese inscription of Rama Khomheng, 
c. 1300 A.D., speaks of a place called Chava, which may be Luang Prabang. On the 
other hand it does not seem likely that pirates, expressly described as using ships, 
would have come from the interior. 


King Indravarman (877-899) seems responsible for the selection 
of the site but he merely commenced the construction of the 
Bay on. The edifice was completed by his son Yasovarman 
(889-908) who also built a town round it, called Yasodharapura, 
Kambupuri or Mahanagara. Angkor Thorn is the Cambojan 
translation of this last name, Angkor being a corruption of 
Nokor (= Nagara). Yas"ovarman s empire comprised nearly all 
Indo-China between Burma and Champa and he has been 
identified with the Leper king of Cambojan legend. His suc 
cessors continued to embellish Angkor Thorn, but Jayavar- 
man IV abandoned it and it was deserted for several years until 
Rajendravarman II (944-968) made it the capital again. The 
Chinese Annals, supported by allusions in the inscriptions, state 
that this prince conquered Champa. The long reigns of Jayavar- 
man V, Suryavarman I, and Udayadityavarman, which cover 
more than a century (968-1079) seem to mark a prosperous 
period when architecture flourished, although Udayadityavar 
man had to contend with two rebellions. Another great king, 
Suryavarman II (1112-1162) followed shortly after them, and 
for a time succeeded in uniting Camboja and Champa under his 
sway. Some authorities credit him with a successful expedition 
to Ceylon. There is not sufficient evidence for this, but he was 
a great prince and, in spite of his foreign wars, maintained 
peace and order at home. 

Jayavarman VII, who appears to have reigned from 1162 
to 1201, reduced to obedience his unruly vassals of the north 
and successfully invaded Champa which remained for thirty 
years, though not without rebellion, the vassal of Camboja. It 
was evacuated by his successor Indravarman in 1220. 

After this date there is again a gap of more than a century 
in Cambojan history, and when the sequence of events becomes 
clear again, we find that Siam has grown to be a dangerous and 
aggressive enemy. But though the vigour of the kingdom may 
have declined, the account of the Chinese traveller Chou Ta-kuan 
who visited Angkor Thorn in 1296 shows that it was not in a 
state of anarchy nor conquered by Siam. There had however 
been a recent war with Siam and he mentions that the country 
was devastated. He unfortunately does not tell us the name of 
the reigning king and the list of sovereigns begins again only in 
1340 when the Annals of Camboja take up the history. They 

xxxvni] CAMBOJA 111 

are not of great value. The custom of recording all events of 
importance prevailed at the Cambojan Court in earlier times 
but these chronicles were lost in the eighteenth century. King 
Ang Chan (1796-1834) ordered that they should be re-written 
with the aid of the Siamese chronicles and such other materials 
as were available and fixed 1340 as the point of departure, 
apparently because the Siamese chronicles start from that 
date 1 . Although the period of the annals offers little but a 
narrative of dissensions at home and abroad, of the interference 
of Annam on one side and of Siam on the other, yet it does not 
seem that the sudden cessation of inscriptions and of the ancient 
style of architecture in the thirteenth century was due to the 
collapse of Camboja, for even in the sixteenth century it offered 
a valiant, and often successful, resistance to aggressions from 
the west. But Angkor Thorn and the principal monuments 
were situated near the Siamese frontier and felt the shock of 
every collision. The sense of security, essential for the con 
struction of great architectural works, had disappeared and the 
population became less submissive and less willing to supply 
forced labour without which such monuments could not be 

The Siamese captured Angkor Thorn in 1313, 1351 and 1420 
but did not on any occasion hold it for long. Again in 1473 
they occupied Chant aboun, Korat and Angkor but had to 
retire and conclude peace. King Ang Chan I successfully dis 
puted the right of Siam to treat him as a vassal and established 
his capital at Lovek, which he fortified and ornamented. He 
reigned from 1505 to 1555 and both he and his son, Barom 
Racha, seem entitled to rank among the great kings of Camboja. 
But the situation was clearly precarious and when a minor suc 
ceeded to the throne in 1574 the Siamese seized the opportunity 
and recaptured Lovek and Chantaboun. Though this capture 
was the death blow to the power of the Khmers, the kingdom 
of Camboja did not cease to exist but for nearly three centuries 
continued to have an eventful but uninteresting history as the 

1 For these annals see F. Gamier, "La Chronique royale du Cambodje," J.A. 
1871 and 1872. A. de Villemereuil, Explorations et Missions de Doudard de 
Lagree, 1882. J. Moura, Le Royaume de Cambodje, vol. n. 1883. E. Aymonier, 
Chronique des Anciens rois du Cambodje. (Excursions et reconnaissances. Saigon, 


vassal of Siam or Annam or even of both 1 , until in the middle 
of the nineteenth century the intervention of France substituted 
a European Protectorate for these Asiatic rivalries. 

The provinces of Siem-reap and Battambang, in which 
Angkor Thorn and the principal ancient monuments are situated, 
were annexed by Siam at the end of the eighteenth century, 
but in virtue of an arrangement negotiated by the French 
Government they were restored to Camboja in 1907, Krat 
and certain territories being at the same time ceded to Siam 2 . 

The religious history of Camboja may be divided into two 
periods, exclusive of the possible existence there of Hinayanist 
Buddhism in the early centuries of our era. In the first period, 
which witnessed the construction of the great monuments and 
the reigns of the great kings, both Brahmanism and Mahayanist 
Buddhism flourished, but as in Java and Champa without 
mutual hostility. This period extends certainly from the sixth 
to the thirteenth centuries and perhaps its limits should be 
stretched to 400-1400 A.D. In any case it passed without abrupt 
transition into the second period in which, under Siamese 
influence, Hinayanist Buddhism supplanted the older faiths, 
although the ceremonies of the Cambojan court still preserve a 
good deal of Brahmanic ritual. 

During the first period, Brahmanism and Mahay anism were 
professed by the Court and nobility. The multitude of great 
temples and opulent endowments, the knowledge of Sanskrit 
literature and the use of Indian names, leave no doubt about 
this, but it is highly probable that the mass of the people had 
their own humbler forms of worship. Still there is no record of 
anything that can be called Khmer as opposed to Indian 
religion. As in Siam, the veneration of nature spirits is universal 
in Camboja and little shrines elevated on poles are erected in 
their honour in the neighbourhood of almost every house. 

1 E.g. Ang Chan (1796-1834) received his crown from the King of Siam and 
paid tribute to the King of Annam; Ang Duong (1846-1859) was crowned by 
representatives of Annam and Siam and his territory was occupied by the troops 
of both countries. 

2 The later history of Camboja is treated in considerable detail by A. Leclerc, 
Histoire de Cambodge, 1914. 

xxxvm] CAMEOJA 113 

Possibly the more important of these spirits were identified in 
early times with Indian deities or received Sanskrit names. 
Thus we hear of a pious foundation in honour of Brahmarak- 
shas 1 , perhaps a local mountain spirit. Siva is adored under 
the name of Sri Sikharesvara, the Lord of the Peak and Krishna 
appears to be identified with a local god called Sri Champesvara 
who was worshipped by Jayavarman VI 2 . 

The practice of accepting and hinduizing strange gods with 
whom they came in contact was so familiar to the Brahmans 
that it would be odd if no examples of it occurred in Camboja. 
Still the Brahmanic religion which has left such clear records 
there was in the main not a hinduized form of any local cult 
but a direct importation of Indian thought, ritual and literature. 
The Indian invaders or colonists were accompanied by Brah 
mans: their descendants continued to bear Indian names and 
to give them to all places of importance: Sanskrit was the 
ecclesiastical and official language, for the inscriptions written 
in Khmer are clearly half-contemptuous notifications to the 
common people, respecting such details as specially concerned 
them: ASramas and castes (varna) are mentioned 3 and it is 
probable that natives were only gradually and grudgingly ad 
mitted to the higher castes. There is also reason to believe that 
this Hindu civilization was from time to time vivified by direct 
contact with India. The embassy of Su-Wu has already been 
mentioned 4 and an inscription records the marriage of a Cam- 
bo j an princess with a Brahman called Divakara who came from 
the banks of the Yamuna, "where Krishna sported in his 

During the whole period of the inscriptions the worship of 
Siva seems to have been the principal cultus and to some extent 
the state religion, for even kings who express themselves in 
their inscriptions as devout Buddhists do not fail to invoke 
him. But there is no trace of hostility to Vishnuism and the 
earlier inscriptions constantly celebrate the praises of the 
compound deity Vishnu-Siva, known under such names as 

1 Inscrip. of Moroun, Corpus, n. 387. 

2 Other local deities may be alluded to, under the names of Sri Jayakshetra, 
"the field of victory" adored at Basset Simadamataka, Sri Mandaresvara, and 
ri Jalangesvara. Aymonier, n. p. 297; I. pp. 305, 306 and 327. 

5 Inscrip. of Lovek. 

4 Prea Eynkosey, 970 A.D. See Corpus, I. pp. 77 ff. 


Hari-Hara 1 , Sambhu-Vishnu, Sarikara-Narayana, etc. Thus an 
inscription of Ang-Pou dating from Isanavarman s reign says 
Victorious are Hara and Acyuta become one for the good of 
the world, though as the spouses of Parvati and Sri they have 
different forms 2 ." But the worship of this double being is 
accompanied by pure Sivaism and by the adoration of other 
deities. In the earliest inscriptions Bhavavarman invokes Siva 
and dedicates a linga. He also celebrates the compound deity 
under the name of Sambhu-Vishnu and mentions Uma, Lak- 
shmi, Bharati, Dharma, the Maruts, and Vishnu under the 
names of Caturbhuja and Trailokyasara. There appears to be no 
allusion to the worship of Vishnu-Siva as two in one after the 
seventh century, but though Siva became exalted at the expense 
of his partner, Vishnu must have had adorers for two kings, 
Jayavarman III and Suryavarman II, were known after their 
death by the names of Vishnu-loka and Parama- Vishnu-loka. 

Siva became generally recognized as the supreme deity, in 
a comprehensive but not an exclusive sense. He is the universal 
spirit from whom emanate Brahma and Vishnu. His character 
as the Destroyer is not much emphasized: he is the God of 
change, and therefore of reproduction, whose symbol is the 
Linga. It is remarkable to find that a pantheistic form of 
Sivaism is clearly enunciated in one of the earliest inscriptions 3 . 
Siva is there styled Vibhu, the omnipresent, Paramvrahma 
(= Brahma), Jagatpati, Pasupati. An inscription found at 
Angkor 4 mentions an Acarya of the Pasupatas as well as an 
Acarya of the Saivas and Chou Ta-kuan seems to allude to the 
worshippers of Pasupati under the name of Pa-ssu-wei. It would 
therefore appear that the Pasupatas existed in Camboja as a 
distinct sect and there are some indications 5 that ideas which 
prevailed among the Lingayats also found their way thither. 

1 This compound deity is celebrated in the Harivamsa and is represented in the 
sculptures of the rock temple at Badami, which is dated 578 A.D. Thus his worship 
may easily have reached Camboja in the sixth or seventh century. 

2 Jayato jagatam bhutyai Kritasandhi Haracyutan, Parvatisripatitvena Bhin- 
naraurttidharavapi. See also the Inscrip. of Ang Chumnik (667 A.D.), verses 11 and 
12 in Corpus, i. p. 67. 

3 The Bayang Inscription, Corpus, I. pp. 31 ff. which mentions the dates 604 and 
626 as recent. 

4 Corpus, n. p. 422 Saivapasupatacaryyau. The inscription fixes the relative 
rank of various Acaryas. 

6 See B.E.F.E.O. 1906, p. 70. 




The most interesting and original aspect of Cambojan 
religion is its connection with the state and the worship of 
deities somehow identified with the king or with prominent 
personages 1 . These features are also found in Champa and Java. 
In all these countries it was usual that when a king founded a 
temple, the god worshipped in it should be called by his name 
or by something like it. Thus when Bhadravarman dedicated a 
temple to Siva, the god was styled Bhadresvara. More than 
this, when a king or any distinguished person died, he was com 
memorated by a statue which reproduced his features but 
represented him with the attributes of his favourite god. Thus 
Indravarman and Yasovarman dedicated at Bako and Lolei 
shrines in which deceased members of the royal family were 
commemorated in the form of images of Siva and Devi bearing 
names similar to their own. Another form of apotheosis was to 
describe a king by a posthumous title, indicating that he had 
gone to the heaven of his divine patron such as Paramavishnu- 
loka or Buddhaloka. The temple of Bayon was a truly national 
fane, almost a Westminster abbey, in whose many shrines all 
the gods and great men of the country were commemorated. 
The French archaeologists recognize four classes of these shrines 
dedicated respectively to (a) Indian deities, mostly special 
forms of Siva, Devi and Vishnu; (6) Mahayanist Buddhas, 
especially Buddhas of healing, who were regarded as the patron 
saints of various towns and mountains ; (c) similar local deities 
apparently of Cambojan origin and perhaps corresponding to 
the God of the City worshipped in every Chinese town ; (d) deified 
kings and notables, who appear to have been represented in 
two forms, the human and divine, bearing slightly different 
names. Thus one inscription speaks of Sri Mahendresvari who 
is the divine form (vrah rupa) of the lady Sri Mahendra- 

The presiding deity of the Bayon was Siva, adored under the 
form of the linga. The principal external ornaments of the 
building are forty towers each surmounted by four heads. These 
were formerly thought to represent Brahma but there is little 
doubt that they are meant for lingas bearing four faces of Siva, 

1 See specially on this subject, Coedes in Bull. Comm. Archeol de VIndochine, 
1911, p. 38, and 1913, p. 81, and the letterpress of Le Bayon d Angkor Thorn, 


since each head has three eyes. Such lingas are occasionally 
seen in India 1 and many metal cases bearing faces and made 
to be fitted on lingas have been discovered in Champa. These 
four-headed columns are found on the gates of Angkor Thorn 
as well as in the Bay on and are singularly impressive. The 
emblem adored in the central shrine of the Bay on was probably 
a linga but its title was Kamraten jagat ta raja or Devardja, the 
king-god. More explicitly still it is styled Kamraten jagat ta 
rdjya, the god who is the kingdom. It typified and contained 
the royal essence present in the living king of Camboja and in 
all her kings. Several inscriptions make it clear that not only 
dead but living people could be represented by statue-portraits 
which identified them with a deity, and in one very remarkable 
record a general offers to the king the booty he has captured, 
asking him to present it "to your subtle ego who is Isvara 
dwelling in a golden linga 2 ." Thus this subtle ego dwells in a 
linga, is identical with Siva, and manifests itself in the successive 
kings of the royal house. 

The practices described have some analogies in India. The 
custom of describing the god of a temple by the name of the 
founder was known there 3 . The veneration of ancestors is 
universal; there are some mausolea (for instance at Ahar near 
Udeypore) and the notion that in life the soul can reside else 
where than in the body is an occasional popular superstition. 
Still these ideas and practices are not conspicuous features of 
Hinduism and the Cambojans had probably come within the 
sphere of another influence. In all eastern Asia the veneration 
of the dead is the fundamental and ubiquitous form of religion 
and in China we find fully developed such ideas as that the great 
should be buried in monumental tombs, that a spirit can be 
made to reside in a tablet or image, and that the human soul is 
compound so that portions of it can be in different places. 
These beliefs combined with the Indian doctrine that the deity 

1 I have seen myself a stone lingam carved with four faces in a tank belonging 
to a temple at Mahakut not far from Badami. 

2 Suvarnamayalingagatesvare te sukshmantaratmani. Inscrip. of Prea Ngouk, 
Corpus, i. p. 157. 

3 E.g. see Epig. Indica, vol. in. pp. 1 ff. At Pa^tadkal (which region offers so 
many points of resemblance to Camboja) King Vijayaditya founded a temple of 
Vijayesvara and two Queens, Lokamahadevi and Trailokyamahadevi founded 
temples of LokesVara and TrailokyesVara. 

xxxvin] CAMBOJA 1 1 7 

is manifested in incarnations, in the human soul and in images 
afford a good theoretical basis for the worship of the Devaraja. 
It was also agreeable to far-eastern ideas that religion and the 
state should be closely associated and the Cambojan kings 
would be glad to imitate the glories of the Son of Heaven. 
But probably a simpler cause tended to unite church and state 
in all these Hindu colonies. In mediaeval India the Brahmans 
became so powerful that they could claim to represent religion 
and civilization apart from the state. But in Camboja and 
Champa Brahmanic religion and civilization were bound up 
with the state. Both were attacked by and ultimately suc 
cumbed to the same enemies. 

The Brahmanism of Camboja, as we know it from the 
inscriptions, was so largely concerned with the worship of this 
"Royal God" that it might almost be considered a department 
of the court. It seems to have been thought essential to the 
dignity of a Sovereign who aspired to be more than a local 
prince, that his Chaplain or preceptor should have a pontifical 
position. A curious parallel to this is shown by those mediaeval 
princes of eastern Europe who claimed for their chief bishops 
the title of patriarch as a complement to their own imperial 
pretensions. In its ultimate form the Cambojan hierarchy was 
the work of Jayavarman II, who, it will be remembered, re 
established the kingdom after an obscure but apparently dis 
astrous interregnum. He made the priesthood of the Royal 
God hereditary in the family of Sivakaivalya and the sacerdotal 
dynasty thus founded enjoyed during some centuries a power 
inferior only to that of the kings. 

In the inscriptions of Sdok Kak Thorn 1 the history of this 
family is traced from the reign of Jayavarman II to 1052. The 
beginning of the story as related in both the Sanskrit and 
Khmer texts is interesting but obscure. It is to the effect that 
Jayavarman, anxious to assure his position as an Emperor 
(Cakravartin) independent of Java 2 , summoned from Janapada 
a Brahman called Hiranyadama, learned in magic (siddhividya), 
who arranged the rules (viddhi) for the worship of the Royal 
God and taught the king s Chaplain, Sivakaivalya, four 
treatises called Vrah Vinasikha, Nayottara, Sammoha and 

1 Aymonier, n. pp. 257 ff. and especially Finot in B.E.F.E.O. 1915, xv. 2, 
p. 53. a See above. 


Sirascheda. These works are not otherwise known 1 . The king 
made a solemn compact that "only the members of his (Siva- 
kaivalya s) maternal 2 family, men and women, should be 
Yajakas (sacrificers or officiants) to the exclusion of all others." 
The restriction refers no doubt only to the cult of the Royal 
God and the office of court chaplain, called Purohita, Guru or 
Hotri, of whom there were at least two. 

The outline of this narrative, that a learned Brahman was 
imported and charged with the instruction of the royal chaplain, 
is simple and probable but the details are perplexing. The 
Sanskrit treatises mentioned are unknown and the names 
singular. Janapada as the name of a definite locality is also 
strange 3 , but it is conceivable that the word may have been 
used in Khmer as a designation of India or a part of it. 

The inscription goes on to relate the gratifying history of 
the priestly family, the grants of land made to them, the honours 
they received. We gather that it was usual for an estate to be 
given to a priest with the right to claim forced labour from the 
population. He then proceeded to erect a town or village em 
bellished with temples and tanks. The hold of Brahmanism on 
the country probably depended more on such priestly towns 
than on the convictions of the people. The inscriptions often 
speak of religious establishments being restored and sometimes 
say that they had become deserted and overgrown. We may 
conclude that if the Brahman lords of a village ceased for any 
reason to give it their attention, the labour and contributions 
requisite for the upkeep of the temples were not forthcoming 
and the jungle was allowed to grow over the buildings. 

Numerous inscriptions testify to the grandeur of the Siva- 
kaivalya family. The monotonous lists of their properties and 
slaves, of the statues erected in their honour and the number 
of parasols borne before them show that their position was 
almost regal, even when the king was a Buddhist. They pru 
dently refrained from attempting to occupy the throne, but 

1 Sammohana and Niruttara are given as names of Tantras. The former word 
may perhaps be the beginning of a compound. There are Pali works called Sammo- 
havinodini and S. vinasini. The inscription calls the four treatises the four faces of 

2 This shows that matriarchy must have been in force in Camboja. 

3 Janapada as the name of a locality is cited by Bothlingck and Roth from the 
Gana to Panini, 4. 2. 82. 

xxxvm] CAMBOJA 119 

probably no king could succeed unless consecrated by them. 
Sadasiva, Sankarapandita and Divakarapandita formed an 
ecclesiastical dynasty from about 1000 to 1100 A.D. parallel to 
the long reigns of the kings in the same period 1 . The last-named 
mentions in an inscription that he had consecrated three kings 
and Sarikarapandita, a man of great learning, was de facto 
sovereign during the minority of his pupil Udayadityavarman 
nor did he lose his influence when the young king attained his 

The shrine of the Royal God was first near Mt Mahendra 
and was then moved to Hariharalaya 2 . Its location was 
definitely fixed in the reign of Indravarman, about 877 A.D. 
Two Sivakaivalya Brahmans, Sivasoma and his pupil Vamasiva, 
chaplain of the king, built a temple called the Sivasrama and 
erected a linga therein. It is agreed that this building is the 
Bayon, which formed the centre of the later city of Angkor. 
Indravarman also illustrated another characteristic of the court 
religion by placing in the temple now called Prah Kou three 
statues of Siva with the features of his father, grandfather and 
Jayavarman II together with corresponding statues of Sakti in 
the likeness of their wives. The next king, Yasovarman, who 
founded the town of Angkor round the Bayon, built near his 
palace another linga temple, now known as Ba-puon. He also 
erected two convents, one Brahmanic and one Buddhist. An 
inscription 3 gives several interesting particulars respecting the 
former. It fixes the provisions to be supplied to priests and 
students and the honours to be rendered to distinguished 
visitors. The right of sanctuary is accorded and the sick and 
helpless are to receive food and medicine. Also funeral rites 
are to be celebrated within its precincts for the repose of the 
friendless and those who have died in war. The royal residence 
was moved from Angkor in 928, but about twenty years later 
the court returned thither and the inscriptions record that the 
Royal God accompanied it. 

The cultus was probably similar to what may be seen in the 

1 Possibly others may have held office during this long period, but evidently all 
three priests lived to be very old men and each may have been Guru for forty years. 

2 This place which means merely "the abode of Hari and Kara" has not been 

3 Corpus, II. Inscrip. Ivi. especially pp. 248-251. 


Sivaite temples of India to-day. The principal lingam was 
placed in a shrine approached through other chambers and 
accessible only to privileged persons. Libations were poured 
over the emblem and sacred books were recited. An interesting 
inscription 1 of about 600 A.D. relates how Srisomasarman (prob 
ably a Brahman) presented to a temple "the Ramayana, the 
Purana and complete Bharata" and made arrangements for 
their recitation. Sanskrit literature was held in esteem. We are 
told that Suryavarman I was versed in the Atharva-Veda and 
also in the Bhashya, Kavyas, the six Darsanas, and the Dhar- 
masastras 2 . Sacrifices are also frequently mentioned and one 
inscription records the performance of a Kotihoma 3 . The old 
Vedic ritual remained to some extent in practice, for no circum 
stances are more favourable to its survival than a wealthy 
court dominated by a powerful hierarchy. Such ceremonies 
were probably performed in the ample enclosures surrounding 
the temples 4 . 

Mahayanist Buddhism existed in Camboja during the whole 
of the period covered by the inscriptions, but it remained 
in such close alliance with Brahmanism that it is hard to say 
whether it should be regarded as a separate religion. The idea 
that the two systems were incompatible obviously never 
occurred to the writers of the inscriptions and Buddhism was 
not regarded as more distinct from Sivaism and Vishnuism 
than these from one another. It had nevertheless many fervent 
and generous, if not exclusive, admirers. The earliest record of 
its existence is a short inscription dating from the end of the 
sixth or beginning of the seventh century 5 , which relates how 
a person called Pon Prajna Candra dedicated male and female 
slaves to the three Bodhisattvas, Sasta 6 , Maitreya and Avalo- 

Veal Kantel, Corpus, i. p. 28. 

Inscr. of Prah Khan, B.E.F.E.O. 1904, p. 675. 

B.E.F.E.O. 1904, p. 677. 

Just as a Vedic sacrifice was performed in the court of the temple of Chidara- 
bar m about 1908. 

Aymonier, Cambodja, i. p. 442. 

6asta sounds like a title of Sakyamuni, but, if Aymonier is correct, the per- 
sonage is described as a Bodhisattva. There were pagoda slaves even in modern 

xxxvin] CAMBOJA 121 

kitesvara. The title given to the Bodhisattvas (Vrah Kamrata 
an) which is also borne by Indian deities shows that this Bud 
dhism was not very different from the Brahmanic cult of Cam- 
bo j a. 

It is interesting to find that Yasovarman founded in Angkor 
Thorn a Saugatasrama or Buddhist monastery parallel to his 
Brahmanasrama already described. Its inmates enjoyed the 
same privileges and had nearly the same rules and duties, being 
bound to afford sanctuary, maintain the destitute and perform 
funeral masses. It is laid down that an Acarya versed in Bud 
dhist lore corresponds in rank to the Acaryas of the Saivas and 
Fasupatas and that in both institutions greater honour is to 
be shown to such Acaryas as also are learned in grammar. A 
Buddhist Acarya ought to be honoured a little less than a 
learned Brahman. Even in form the inscriptions recording the 
foundation of the two Asramas show a remarkable parallelism. 
Both begin with two stanzas addressed to Siva: then the 
Buddhist inscription inserts a stanza in honour of the Buddha 
who delivers from transmigration and gives nirvana, and then 
the two texts are identical for several stanzas 1 . 

Mahayanism appears to have flourished here especially 
from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries and throughout the 
greater part of this period we find the same feature that its 
principal devotees were not the kings but their ministers. 
Suryavarman I (f 1049) and Jayavarman VII (f 1221) in some 
sense deserved the name of Buddhists since the posthumous 
title of the former was Nirvanapada and the latter left a long 
inscription 2 beginning with a definitely Buddhist invocation. 
Yet an inscription of Suryavarman which states in its second 
verse that only the word of the Buddha is true, opens by singing 
the praises of Siva, and Jayavarman certainly did not neglect 
the Brahmanic gods. But for about a hundred years there was 
a series of great ministers who specially encouraged Buddhism. 
Such were Satyavarman (c. 900 A.D.), who was charged with 
the erection of the building in Angkor known as Phimeanakas; 
Kavindrarimathana, minister under Rajendravarman II and 
Jayavarman V, who erected many Buddhist statues and 
Kirtipandita, minister of Jayavarman V. Kirtipandita was the 

1 See Coedes, "La Stele de Tep Pranam," in J.A. xi. 1908, p. 203. 

2 Inscrip. of Ta Prohm, B.E.F.E.O. 1906, p. 44. 


author 1 of the inscription found at Srey Santhor, which states 
that thanks to his efforts the pure doctrine of the Buddha re 
appeared like the moon from behind the clouds or the sun at 

It may be easily imagined that the power enjoyed by the 
court chaplain would dispose the intelligent classes to revolt 
against this hierarchy and to favour liberty and variety in 
religion, so far as was safe. Possibly the kings, while co-operat 
ing with a priesthood which recognized them as semi-divine, 
were glad enough to let other religious elements form some sort 
of counterpoise to a priestly family which threatened to be 
omnipotent. Though the identification of Sivaism and Buddhism 
became so complete that we actually find a Trinity composed 
of Padmodbhava (Brahma), Ambhojanetra (Vishnu) and the 
Buddha 2 , the inscriptions of the Buddhist ministers are marked 
by a certain diplomacy and self-congratulation on the success 
of their efforts, as if they felt that their position was meritorious, 
yet delicate. 

Thus in an inscription, the object of which seems to be to 
record the erection of a statue of Prajna-paramita by Kavin- 
drarimathana we are told that the king charged him with the 
embellishment of Yasodharapura because "though an eminent 
Buddhist" his loyalty was above suspicion 3 . The same minister 
erected three towers at Bat Cum with inscriptions 4 which record 
the dedication of a tank. The first invokes the Buddha, Vajra- 
pani 5 and Lokesvara. In the others Lokesvara is replaced by 
Prajna-paramita who here, as elsewhere, is treated as a goddess 
or Sakti and referred to as Devi in another stanza 6 . The three 
inscriptions commemorate the construction of a sacred tank 

1 See Senart in Revue Archdologique, 1883. As in many inscriptions it is not 
always plain who is speaking but in most parts it is apparently the minister pro 
mulgating the instructions of the king. 

2 Inscript. of Prasat Prah Khse, Corpus, I. p. 173. 
8 Buddhanam agranir api, J.A. xx. 1882, p. 164. 

4 See Coedes, "Inscriptions de Bat Cum," in J.A. xn. 1908, pp. 230, 241. 

5 The Bodhisattva corresponding to the Buddha Akshobhya. He is green or 
blue and carries a thunderbolt. It seems probable that he is a metamorphosis of 

6 An exceedingly curious stanza eulogizes the doctrine of the non-existence 
of the soul taught by the Buddha which leads to identification with the universal 
soul although contrary to it. Vuddho vodhim vidaddhyad vo yena nairatmyadar- 
6anam viruddhasyapi sadhuktam sadhanam paramatmanah. 




but, though the author was a Buddhist, he expressly restricts 
the use of it to Brahmanic functionaries. 

The inscription of Srey Santhor 1 (c. 975 A.D.) describes the 
successful efforts of Kirtipandita to restore Buddhism and gives 
the instructions of the king (Jayavarman V) as to its status. 
The royal chaplain is by no means to abandon the worship of 
Siva but he is to be well versed in Buddhist learning and on 
feast days he will bathe the statue of the Buddha with due 

A point of interest in this inscription is the statement that 
Kirtipandita introduced Buddhist books from abroad, including 
the Sastra Madhyavibhaga and the commentary on the Tattva- 
sangraha. The first of these is probably the Madhyantavibhaga 
sastra 2 by Vasubandhu and the authorship is worth attention 
as supporting Taranatha s statement that the disciples of 
Vasubandhu introduced Buddhism into Indo-China. 

In the time of Jayavarman VII (c. 1185 A.D.), although 
Hindu mythology is not discarded and though the king s 
chaplain (presumably a Sivaite) receives every honour, yet 
Mahayanist Buddhism seems to be frankly professed as the 
royal religion. It is noteworthy that about the same time it 
becomes more prominent in Java and Champa. Probably the 
flourishing condition of the faith in Ceylon and Burma increased 
the prestige of all forms of Buddhism throughout south-eastern 
Asia. A long inscription of Jayavarman in 145 stanzas has been 
preserved in the temple of Ta Prohm near Angkor. It opens 
with an invocation to the Buddha, in which are mentioned the 
three bodies, Lokesvara 3 , and the Mother of the Jinas, by whom 
Prajna-paramita must be meant. Siva is not invoked but 
allusion is made to many Brahmanic deities and Bhikkhus and 
Brahmans are mentioned together. The inscription contains a 
curious list of the materials supplied daily for the temple 
services and of the personnel. Ample provision is made for 
both, but it is not clear how far a purely Buddhist ritual is 
contemplated and it seems probable that an extensive Brah 
manic cultus existed side by side with the Buddhist ceremonial. 

1 Aymonier, i pp. 261 ff. Senart, Revue Archeologique, Mars-Avril, 1883. 

2 Nanjio, 1244 and 1248. 

8 The common designation of Avalokita in Camboja and Java. For the inscrip 
tion see B.E.F.E.O. 1906, pp. 44 ff. 

E. m. a 


We learn that there were clothes for the deities and forty-five 
mosquito nets of Chinese material to protect their statues. The 
Uposatha days seem to be alluded to 1 and the spring festival is 
described, when "Bhagavat and Bhagavati" are to be escorted 
in solemn procession with parasols, music, banners and dancing 
girls. The whole staff, including Burmese and Chams (probably 
slaves), is put down at the enormous figure of 79,365, which 
perhaps includes all the neighbouring inhabitants who could be 
called on to render any service to the temple. The more sacer 
dotal part of the establishment consisted of 18 principal priests 
(adhikarinah), 2740 priests and 2232 assistants, including 615 
dancing girls. But even these figures seem very large 2 . 

The inscription comes to a gratifying conclusion by an 
nouncing that there are 102 hospitals in the kingdom 3 . These 
institutions, which are alluded to in other inscriptions, were 
probably not all founded by Jayavarman VII and he seems to 
treat them as being, like temples, a natural part of a well- 
ordered state. But he evidently expended much care and money 
on them and in the present inscription he makes over the fruit 
of these good deeds to his mother. The most detailed description 
of these hospitals occurs in another of his inscriptions found at 
Say-fong in Laos. It is, like the one just cited, definitely Bud 
dhist and it is permissible to suppose that Buddhism took a 
more active part than Brahmanism in such works of charity. 
It opens with an invocation first to the Buddha who in his 
three bodies transcends the distinction between existence and 
non-existence, and then to the healing Buddha and the two 
Bodhisattvas who drive away darkness and disease. These 
divinities, who are the lords of a heaven in the east, analogous 
to the paradise of Amitabha, are still worshipped in China and 
Japan and were evidently gods of light 4 . The hospital erected 

1 Stanza XLVT. 

2 The inscription only says "There are here (atra)." Can this mean in the 
various religious establishments maintained by the king? 

8 See also Finot, Notes d Epig. pp. 332-335. The Mahavamsa repeatedly men 
tions that kings founded hospitals and distributed medicines. See too, Yule, Marco 
Polo, i. p. 446. The care of the sick was recognized as a duty and a meritorious act in 
all Buddhist countries and is recommended by the example of the Buddha himself. 

4 Their somewhat lengthy titles are Bhaishajyaguruvaiduryaprabharaja, Surya- 
vairocanacandaroci and Candravairocanarohinisa. See for an account of them and 
the texts on which their worship is founded the learned article of M. Pelliot, "Le 
Bhaisajyaguru," B.E.F.E.O. 1903, p. 33. 




under their auspices by the Cambojan king was open to all the 
four castes and had a staff of 98 persons, besides an astrologer 
and two sacrificers (yajaka). 

These inscriptions of Jayavarman are the last which tell 
us anything about the religion of mediaeval Camboja but we 
have a somewhat later account from the pen of Chou Ta-kuan, 
a Chinese who visited Angkor in 1296 1 . He describes the 
temple in the centre of the city, which must be the Bayon, and 
says that it had a tower of gold and that the eastern (or princi 
pal) entrance was approached by a golden bridge flanked by 
two lions and eight statues, all of the same metal. The chapter 
of his work entitled "The Three Religions," runs as follows, 
slightly abridged from M. Pelliot s version. 

"The literati are called Pan-ch i, the bonzes Ch u-ku and the 
Taoists Pa-ssu-wei. I do not know whom the Pan-ch i worship. 
They have no schools and it is difficult to say what books they 
read. They dress like other people except that they wear a 
white thread round their necks, which is their distinctive mark. 
They attain to very high positions. The Ch u-ku shave their 
heads and wear yellow clothes. They uncover the right shoulder, 
but the lower part of their body is draped with a skirt of yellow 
cloth and they go bare foot. Their temples are sometimes 
roofed with tiles. Inside there is only one image, exactly like 
the Buddha Sakya, which they call Po-lai (= Prah), ornamented 
with vermilion and blue, and clothed in red. The Buddhas of 
the towers ( ? images in the towers of the temples) are different 
and cast in bronze. There are no bells, drums, cymbals, or flags 
in their temples. They eat only one meal a day, prepared by 
someone who entertains them, for they do not cook in their 
temples. They eat fish and meat and also use them in their 
offerings to Buddha, but they do not drink wine. They recite 
numerous texts written on strips of palm-leaf. Some bonzes 
have a right to have the shafts of their palanquins and the 
handles of their parasols in gold or silver. The prince consults 
them on serious matters. There are no Buddhist nuns. 

"The Pa-ssu-wei dress like everyone else, except that they 
wear on their heads a piece of red or white stuff like the Ku-ku 

1 His narrative is translated by M. Pelliot in B.E.F.E.O. 1902, pp. 123-177. 


worn by Tartar women but lower. Their temples are smaller 
than those of the Buddhists, for Taoism is less prosperous than 
Buddhism. They worship nothing but a block of stone, somewhat 
like the stone on the altar of the God of the Sun in China. I 
do not know what god they adore. There are also Taoist nuns. 
The Pa-ssu-wei do not partake of the food of other people or 
eat in public. They do not drink wine. 

"Such children of the laity as go to school frequent the 
bonzes, who give them instruction. When grown up they 
return to a lay life. 

"I have not been able to make an exhaustive investigation." 

Elsewhere he says "All worship the Buddha" and he 
describes some popular festivals which resemble those now 
celebrated in Siam. In every village there was a temple or a 
Stupa. He also mentions that in eating they use leaves as 
spoons and adds "It is the same in their sacrifices to the spirits 
and to Buddha." 

Chou Ta-kuan confesses that his account is superficial and 
he was perhaps influenced by the idea that it was natural there 
should be three religions in Camboja, as in China. Buddhists 
were found in both countries: Pan-ch i no doubt represents 
Pandita and he saw an analogy between the Brahmans of the 
Cambojan Court and Confucian mandarins: a third and less 
known sect he identified with the Taoists. The most important 
point in his description is the prominence given to the Buddhists. 
His account of their temples, of the dress and life of their 
monks 1 leaves no doubt that he is describing Hinayanist Bud 
dhism such as still flourishes in Camboja. It probably found its 
way from Siam, with which Camboja had already close, but 
not always peaceful, relations. Probably the name by which 
the bonzes are designated is Siamese 2 . With Chou Ta-kuan s 
statements may be compared the inscription of the Siamese 
King Rama Khomheng 3 which dwells on the flourishing con 
dition of Pali Buddhism in Siam about 1300 A.D. The contrast 
indicated by Chou Ta-kuan is significant. The Brahmans held 

1 Pelliot (B.E.F.E.O. 1902, p. 148) cites a statement from the Ling Wai Tai Ta 
that there were two classes of bonzes in Camboja, those who wore yellow robes 
and married and those who wore red robes and lived in convents. 

2 M. Finot conjectures that it represents the Siamese Chao (Lord) and a corrup 
tion of Guru. 

3 See chapter on Siam, sect. 1. 




high office but had no schools. Those of the laity who desired 
education spent some portion of their youth in a Buddhist 
monastery (as they still do) and then returned to the world. 
Such a state of things naturally resulted in the diffusion of 
Buddhism among the people, while the Brahmans dwindled to 
a Court hierarchy. When Chou Ta-kuan says that all the Cam- 
bojans adored Buddha, he probably makes a mistake, as he 
does in saying that the sculptures above the gates of Angkor 
are heads of Buddha. But the general impression which he 
evidently received that everyone frequented Buddhist temples 
and monasteries speaks for itself. His statement about sacri 
fices to Buddha is remarkable and, since the inscriptions of 
Jayavarman VII speak of sacrificers, it cannot be rejected as a 
mere mistake. But if Hinayanist Buddhism countenanced such 
practices in an age of transition, it did not adopt them per 
manently for, so far as I have seen, no offerings are made to-day 
in Cambojan temples, except flowers and sticks of incense. 

The Pa-ssu-wei have given rise to many conjectures and have 
been identified with the Basaih or sacerdotal class of the Chams. 
But there seems to be little doubt that the word really represents 
Pasupata and Chou Ta-kuan s account clearly points to a sect 
of linga worshippers, although no information is forthcoming 
about the "stone on the altar of the Sun God in China" to 
which he compares their emblem. His idea that they repre 
sented the Taoists in Camboja may have led him to exaggerate 
their importance but his statement that they were a separate 
body is confirmed, for an inscription of Angkor 1 defines the 
order of hierarchical precedence as "the Brahman, the Saiva 
Acarya, the Pasupata Acarya 2 ." 

From the time of Chou Ta-kuan to the present day I have 

1 Corpus, IT. p. 422. 

2 The strange statement of Chou Ta-kuan (pp. 153-155) that the Buddhist and 
Taoist priests enjoyed a species of jus primce noctis has been much discussed. 
Taken by itself it might be merely a queer story founded on a misunderstanding 
of Cambojan customs, for he candidly says that his information is untrustworthy. 
But taking it in connection with the stories about the Aris in Burma (see especially 
Finot, J.A. 1912, p. 121) and the customs attributed by Chinese and Europeans 
to the Siamese and Philippines, we can hardly come to any conclusion except that 
this strange usage was an aboriginal custom in Indo-China and the Archipelago, 
prior to the introductions of Indian civilization, but not suppressed for some time. 
At the present day there seems to be no trace or even tradition of such a custom. 
For Siamese and Philippine customs see B.E.F.E.O. 1902, p. 153, note 4. 


found few notices about the religion of Camboja. Hinayahist 
Buddhism became supreme and though we have few details of 
the conquest we can hardly go wrong in tracing its general 
lines. Brahmanism was exclusive and tyrannical. It made no 
appeal to the masses but a severe levy of forced labour must 
have been necessary to erect and maintain the numerous great 
shrines which, though in ruins, are still the glory of Camboja 1 . 
In many of them are seen the remains of inscriptions which 
have been deliberately erased. These probably prescribed cer 
tain onerous services which the proletariat was bound to render 
to the established church. When Siamese Buddhism invaded 
Camboja it had a double advantage. It was the creed of an 
aggressive and successful neighbour but, while thus armed with 
the weapons of this world, it also appealed to the poor and 
oppressed. If it enjoyed the favour of princes, it had no desire 
to defend the rights of a privileged caste : it offered salvation 
and education to the average townsman and villager. If it 
invited the support and alms of the laity, it was at least modest 
in its demands. Brahmanism on the other hand lost strength 
as the prestige of the court declined. Its greatest shrines were 
in the provinces most exposed to Siamese attacks. The first 
Portuguese writers speak of them as already deserted at the 
end of the sixteenth century. The connection with India was 
not kept up and if any immigrants came from the west, after 
the twelfth century they are more likely to have been Moslims 
than Hindus. Thus driven from its temples, with no roots 
among the people, whose affections it had never tried to win, 
Brahmanism in Camboja became what it now is, a court 
ritual without a creed and hardly noticed except at royal 

It is remarkable that Mohammedanism remained almost 
unknown to Camboja, Siam and Burma. The tide of Moslim 
invasion swept across the Malay Peninsula southwards. Its 
effect was strongest in Sumatra and Java, feebler on the coasts 
of Borneo and the Philippines. From the islands it reached 
Champa, where it had some success, but Siam and Camboja 
lay on one side of its main route, and also showed no sympathy 

1 The French Archaeological Commission states that exclusive of Angkor and 
the neighbouring buildings there are remains of 600 temples in Camboja, and 
probably many have entirely disappeared. 

xxxvm] CAMBOJA 129 

for it. King Rama Thuppdey Chan 1 who reigned in Camboja 
from 1642-1659 became a Mohammedan and surrounded him 
self with Malays and Javanese. But he alienated the affections 
of his subjects and was deposed by the intervention of Annam. 
After this we hear no more of Mohammedanism. An unusual 
incident, which must be counted among the few cases in which 
Buddhism has encouraged violence, is recorded in the year 1730, 
when a Laotian who claimed to be inspired, collected a band of 
fanatics and proceeded to massacre in the name of Buddha all 
the Annamites resident in Camboja. This seems to show that 
Buddhism was regarded as the religion of the country and could 
be used as a national cry against strangers. 

As already mentioned Brahmanism still survives in the 
court ceremonial though this by no means prevents the king 
from being a devout Buddhist. The priests are known as Bakus. 
They wear a top-knot and the sacred thread after the Indian 
fashion, and enjoy certain privileges. Within the precincts of 
the palace at Phnom Penh is a modest building where they still 
guard the sword of Indra. About two inches of the blade are 
shown to visitors, but except at certain festivals it is never 
taken out of its sheath. 

The official programme of the coronation of King Sisowath 
(April 23-28, 1906), published in French and Cambojan, gives 
a curious account of the ceremonies performed, which were 
mainly Brahmanic, although prayers were recited by the Bonzes 
and offerings made to Buddha. Four special Brahmanic shrines 
were erected and the essential part of the rite consisted in a 
lustral bath, in which the Bakus poured water over the king. 
Invocations were addressed to beings described as "Anges qui 
etes au paradis des six sejours celestes, qui habitez aupres 
d Indra, de Brahma et de 1 archange Sahabodey," to the spirits 
of mountains, valleys and rivers and to the spirits who guard 
the palace. When the king has been duly bathed the programme 
prescribes that "le Directeur des Bakous remettra la couronne 
a M. le Gouverneur General qui la portera sur la tete de Sa 
Majeste au nom du Gouvernement de la Republique Fran9aise." 
Equally curious is the "Programme des fetes royales a 1 occasion 
de la cremation de S.M. Norodom" (January 2-16, 1906). The 
lengthy ceremonial consisted of a strange mixture of prayers, 

1 Maspdro, pp. 62-3. 


sermons, pageants and amusements. The definitely religious 
exercises were Buddhist and the amusements which accom 
panied them, though according to our notions curiously out of 
place, clearly correspond to the funeral games of antiquity. 
Thus we read not only of "offrande d un repas aux urnes 
royales" but of "illuminations generates ... lancement de 
ballons. . .luttes et assauts de boxe et de 1 escrime. . .danses et 
soiree de gala. . . . Apres la cremation, Sa Majeste distribuera des 
billets de tombola." 

The ordinary Buddhism of Camboja at the present day 
resembles that of Siam and is not mixed with Brahmanic ob 
servances. Monasteries are numerous : the monks enjoy general 
respect and their conduct is said to be beyond reproach. They 
act as schoolmasters and, as in Siam and Burma, all young men 
spend some time in a monastery. A monastery generally con 
tains from thirty to fifty monks and consists of a number of 
wooden houses raised on piles and arranged round a square. 
Each monk has a room and often a house to himself. Besides 
the dwelling houses there are also stores and two halls called 
Sala and Vihear (vihara). In both the Buddha is represented 
by a single gigantic sitting image, before which are set flowers 
and incense. As a rule there are no other images but the walls 
are often ornamented with frescoes of Jataka stories or the 
early life of Gotama. Meals are taken in the Sala at about 7 and 
11 a.m. 1 , and prayers are recited there on ordinary days in the 
morning and evening. The eleven o clock meal is followed by a 
rather long grace. The prayers consist mostly of Pali formulae, 
such as the Three Refuges, but they are sometimes in Cambojan 
and contain definite petitions or at least wishes formulated 
before the image of the Buddha. Thus I have heard prayers for 
peace and against war. The more solemn ceremonies, such as 
the Uposatha and ordinations, are performed in the Vihear. 
The recitation of the Patimokkha is regularly performed and I 
have several times witnessed it. All but ordained monks have 
to withdraw outside the Sima stones during the service. The 
ceremony begins about 6 p.m.: the Bhikkhus kneel down in 
pairs face to face and rubbing their foreheads in the dust ask 
for mutual forgiveness if they have inadvertently offended. 

1 The food is prepared in the monasteries, and, as in other countries, the begging 
round is a mere formality. 




This ceremony is also performed on other occasions. It is 
followed by singing or intoning lauds, after which comes the 
recitation of the Patimokkha itself which is marked by great 
solemnity. The reader sits in a large chair on the arms of which 
are fixed many lighted tapers. He repeats the text by heart 
but near him sits a prompter with a palm-leaf manuscript 
who, if necessary, corrects the words recited. I have never 
seen a monk confess in public, and I believe that the usual 
practice is for sinful brethren to abstain from attending the 
ceremony and then to confess privately to the Abbot, who 
assigns them a penance. As soon as the Patimokkha is concluded 
all the Bhikkhus smoke large cigarettes. In most Buddhist 
countries it is not considered irreverent to smoke 1 , chew betel 
or drink tea in the intervals of religious exercises. When the 
cigarettes are finished there follows a service of prayer and 
praise in Cambojan. During the season of Wassa there are 
usually several Bhikkhus in each monastery who practise 
meditation for three or four days consecutively in tents or 
enclosures made of yellow cloth, open above but closed all 
round. The four stages of meditation described in the Pitakas 
are jaid to be commonly attained by devout monks 2 . 

The Abbot has considerable authority in disciplinary matters. 
He eats apart from the other monks and at religious ceremonies 
wears a sort of red cope, whereas the dress of the other brethren 
is entirely yellow. Novices prostrate themselves when they 
speak to him. 

Above the Abbots are Provincial Superiors and the govern 
ment of the whole Church is in the hands of the Somdec prah 
sanghrac. There is, or was, also a second prelate called Lok prah 
s6kon, or Brah Sugandha, and the two, somewhat after the 
manner of the two primates of the English Church, supervise 
the clergy in different parts of the kingdom, the second being 
inferior to the first in rank, but not dependent on him. But it 
is said that no successor has been appointed to the last Brah 
Sugandha who died in 1894. He was a distinguished scholar 
and introduced the Dhammayut sect from Siam into Camboja. 

1 But in Chinese temples notices forbidding smoking are often posted on the 

3 The word dhyana is known, but the exercise is more commonly called Vi- 
passana or Kaminathana. 


The king is recognized as head of the Church, but cannot alter 
its doctrine or confiscate ecclesiastical property. 


No account of Cambojan religion would be complete without 
some reference to the splendid monuments in which it found 
expression and which still remain in a great measure intact. 
The colonists who established themselves in these regions 
brought with them the Dravidian taste for great buildings, but 
either their travels enlarged their artistic powers or they 
modified the Indian style by assimilating successfully some 
architectural features found in their new home. What pre- 
Indian architecture there may have been among the Khmers 
we do not know, but the fact that the earliest known monu 
ments are Hindu makes it improbable that stone buildings on a 
large scale existed before their arrival. The feature which most 
clearly distinguishes Cambojan from Indian architecture is its 
pyramidal structure. India has stupas and gopurams of pyra 
midal appearance but still Hindu temples of the normal type, 
both in the north and south, consist of a number of buildings 
erected on the same level. In Camboja on the contrary many 
buildings, such as Ta-Keo, Ba-phuong and the Phimeanakas, 
are shrines on the top of pyramids, which consist of three storeys 
or large steps, ascended by flights of relatively small steps. In 
other buildings, notably Angkor Wat, the pyramidal form is 
obscured by the slight elevation of the storeys compared with 
their breadth and by the elaboration of the colonnades and other 
edifices, which they bear. But still the general plan is that of 
a series of courts each rising within and above the last and this 
gradual rise, by which the pilgrim is led, not only through 
colonnade after colonnade, but up flight after flight of stairs, 
each leading to something higher but invisible from the base, 
imparts to Cambojan temples a sublimity and aspiring grandeur 
which is absent from the mysterious halls of Dravidian shrines. 

One might almost suppose that the Cambojan architects 
had deliberately set themselves to rectify the chief faults of 
Indian architecture. One of these is the profusion of external 
ornament in high relief which by its very multiplicity ceases to 
produce any effect proportionate to its elaboration, with the 

xxxvin] CAMBOJA 133 

result that the general view is disappointing and majestic out 
lines are wanting. In Cambojan buildings on the contrary the 
general effect is not sacrificed to detail: the artists knew how 
to make air and space give dignity to their work. Another 
peculiar defect of many Dravidian buildings is that they were 
gradually erected round some ancient and originally humble 
shrine with the unfortunate result that the outermost courts 
and gateways are the most magnificent and that progress to 
the holy of holies is a series of artistic disappointments. But at 
Angkor Wat this fault is carefully avoided. The long paved 
road which starts from the first gateway isolates the great 
central mass of buildings without dwarfing it and even in 
the last court, when one looks up the vast staircases leading 
to the five towers which crown the pyramid, all that has led 
up to the central shrine seems, as it should, merely an intro 

The solidity of Cambojan architecture is connected with the 
prevalence of inundations. With such dangers it was of primary 
importance to have a massive substructure which could not be 
washed away and the style which was necessary in building a 
firm stone platform inspired the rest of the work. Some un 
finished temples reveal the interesting fact that they were 
erected first as piles of plain masonry. Then came the decorator 
and carved the stones as they stood in their places, so that 
instead of carving separate blocks he was able to contemplate 
his design as a whole and to spread it over many stones. Hence 
most Cambojan buildings have a peculiar air of unity. They 
have not had ornaments affixed to them but have grown into 
an ornamental whole. Yet if an unfavourable criticism is to 
be made on these edifices especially Angkor Wat it is that 
the sculptures are wanting in meaning and importance. They 
cannot be compared to the reliefs of Boroboedoer, a veritable 
catechism in stone where every clause teaches the believer 
something new, or even to the piles of figures in Dravidian 
temples which, though of small artistic merit, seem to represent 
the whirl of the world with all its men and monsters, struggling 
from life into death and back to life again. The reliefs in the 
great corridors of Angkor are purely decorative. The artist 
justly felt that so long a stretch of plain stone would be 
wearisome, and as decoration, his work is successful. Looking 


outwards the eye is satisfied with such variety as the trees and 
houses in the temple courts afford: looking inwards it finds 
similar variety in the warriors and deities portrayed on the 
walls. Some of the scenes have an historical interest, but the 
attempt to follow the battles of the Ramayana or the Churning 
of the Sea soon becomes a tedious task, for there is little 
individuality or inspiration in the figures. 

This want of any obvious correspondence between the 
decoration and cult of the Cambojan temples often makes it 
difficult to say to what deities they were dedicated. The Bayon, 
or Sivasrama, was presumably a linga temple, yet the conjecture 
is not confirmed as one would expect by any indubitable evi 
dence in the decoration or arrangements. In its general plan 
the building seems more Indian than others and, like the temple 
of Jagannatha at Puri, consists of three successive chambers, 
each surmounted by a tower. The most remarkable feature in 
the decoration is the repetition of the four-headed figure at the 
top of every tower, a striking and effective motive, which is 
also found above the gates of the town. Chou Ta-kuan says 
that there were golden statues of Buddhas at the entrance to 
the Bayon. It is impossible to say whether this statement is 
accurate or not. He may have simply made a mistake, but it is 
equally possible that the fusion of the two creeds may have 
ended in images of the Buddha being placed outside the shrine 
of the linga. 

Strange as it may seem, there is no clear evidence as to the 
character of the worship performed in Camboja s greatest 
temple, Angkor Wat. Since the prince who commenced it was 
known by the posthumous title of Paramavishnuloka, we may 
presume that he intended to dedicate it to Vishnu and some 
of the sculptures appear to represent Vishnu slaying a demon. 
But it was not finished until after his death and his intentions 
may not have been respected by his successors. An authoritative 
statement 1 warns us that it is not safe to say more about the 
date of Angkor Wat than that its extreme limits are 1050 and 
1170. Jayavarman VII (who came to the throne at about this 
latter date) was a Buddhist, and may possibly have used the 
great temple for his own worship. The sculptures are hardly 

1 M. G. Coed&s in Bull Comm. ArcUol. 1911, p. 220. 

xxxvm] CAMBOJA 135 

Brahmanic in the theological sense, and those which represent 
the pleasures of paradise and the pains of hell recall Buddhist 
delineations of the same theme 1 . The four images of the Buddha 
which are now found in the central tower are modern and all 
who have seen them will, I think, agree that the figure of the 
great teacher which seems so appropriate in the neighbouring 
monasteries is strangely out of place in this aerial shrine. But 
what the designer of the building intended to place there 
remains a mystery. Perhaps an empty throne such as is seen 
in the temples of Annam and Bali would have been the best 
symbol 2 . 

Though the monuments of Camboja are well preserved the 
grey and massive severity which marks them at present is 
probably very different from the appearance that they wore 
when used for worship. From Chou Ta-kuan and other sources 3 
we gather that the towers and porches were .gilded, the bas- 
reliefs and perhaps the whole surface of the walls were painted, 
and the building was ornamented with flags. Music and dances 
were performed in the courtyards and, as in many Indian 
temples, the intention was to create a scene which by its 
animation and brilliancy might amuse the deity and rival the 
pleasures of paradise. 

It is remarkable that ancient Camboja which has left us so 
many monuments, produced no books 4 . Though the inscriptions 
and Chou Ta-kuan testify to the knowledge of literature 
(especially religious), both Brahmanic and Buddhist, diffused 
among the upper classes, no original works or even adaptations 
of Indian originals have come down to us. The length and 

1 Although there is no reason why these pictures of the future life should not be 
Brahmanic as well as Buddhist, I do not remember having seen them in any purely 
Brahmanic temple. 

2 After spending some time at Angkor Wat I find it hard to believe the theory 
that it was a palace. The King of Camboja was doubtless regarded as a living God, 
but so is the Grand Lama, and it does not appear that the Potala where he lives is 
anything but a large residential building containing halls and chapels much like 
the Vatican. But at Angkor Wat everything leads up to a central shrine. It is 
quite probable however that the deity of this shrine was a deified king, identified 
with Vishnu after his death. This would account for the remarks of Chou Ta-kuan 
who seems to have regarded it as a tomb. 

3 See especially the inscription of Bassac. Kern, Annales de r Extreme Orient, 
t. in. 1880, p. 65. 

4 Pali books are common in monasteries. For the literature of Laos see Finot, 
B.E.F.E.O. 1917, No. 5. 


ambitious character of many inscriptions give an idea of what 
the Cambojans could do in the way of writing, but the result is 
disappointing. These poems in stone show a knowledge of 
Sanskrit, of Indian poetry and theology, which is surprising if 
we consider how far from India they were composed, but they 
are almost without exception artificial, frigid and devoid of 
vigour or inspiration. 


THE kingdom of Champa, though a considerable power from 
about the third century until the end of the fifteenth, has 
attracted less attention than Camboja or Java. Its name is a 
thing of the past and known only to students: its monuments 
are inferior in size and artistic merit to those of the other Hindu 
kingdoms in the Far East and perhaps its chief interest is that 
it furnishes the oldest Sanskrit inscription yet known from these 

Champa occupied the south-eastern corner of Asia beyond 
the Malay Peninsula, if the word corner can be properly applied 
to such rounded outlines. Its extent varied at different epochs, 
but it may be roughly defined in the language of modern 
geography as the southern portion of Annam, comprising the 
provinces of Quang-nam in the north and Binh-Thuan in the 
south with the intervening country. It was divided into three 
provinces, which respectively became the seat of empire at differ 
ent periods. They were (i) in the north Amaravati (the modern 
Quang-nam) with the towns of Indrapura and Sinhapura; 

1 Also spelt Campa and Tchampa. It seems safer to use Ch for C in names 
which though of Indian origin are used outside India. The final a though strictly 
speaking long is usually written without an accent. The following are the principal 
works which I have consulted about Champa. 

(a) G. Maspero, Le Royaume de Champa. Published in Toung Poo, 1910-1912. 
Cited as Maspero. 

(b) A. Bergaigne, " Inscriptions Sanskrites de Champa " in Notices et Extraits 

des Manuscrits de la Bibliotheque Nationale, tome xxvn. l re partie. 2 e 
fascicule, 1893, pp. 181-292. Cited as Corpus, n. 

(c) H. Parmentier, Inventaire descriptif des Monuments Cams de V Annam. 


(d) L. Finot, "La Religion des Chams," B.E.F.E.O. 1901, and Notes d tipi- 

graphie. "Les Inscriptions de Mi-son," ib. 1904. Numerous other 
papers by this author, Durand, Parmentier and others in the same 
periodical can be consulted with advantage. 

(e) Id., Notes d tipigraphie Indo-Chinoise, 1916. 


(ii) in the middle Vijaya (the modern Bing-Dinh) with the 
town of Vijaya and the port of Sri- Vinaya ; (iii) in the south 
Panduranga or Panran (the modern provinces of Phanrang and 
Binh-Thuan) with the town of Virapura or Rajapura. A section 
of Panduranga called Kauthara (the modern Kanh hoa) was a 
separate province at certain times. Like the modern Annam, 
Champa appears to have been mainly a littoral kingdom and not 
to have extended far into the mountains of the interior. 

Champa was the ancient name of a town in western Bengal 
near Bhagalpur, but its application to these regions does not 
seem due to any connection with north-eastern India. The 
conquerors of the country, who were called Chams, had a 
certain amount of Indian culture and considered the classical 
name Champa as an elegant expression for the land of the 
Chams. Judging by their language these Chams belonged to 
the Malay-Polynesian group and their distribution along the 
littoral suggests that they were invaders from the sea like the 
Malay pirates from whom they themselves subsequently 
suffered. The earliest inscription in the Cham language dates 
from the beginning of the ninth century but it is preceded by 
a long series of Sanskrit inscriptions the oldest of which, that of 
Vo-can 1 , is attributed at latest to the third century, and refers 
to an earlier king. It therefore seems probable that the Hindu 
dynasty of Champa was founded between 150 and 200 A.D. but 
there is no evidence to show whether a Malay race already 
settled in Champa was conquered and hinduized by Indian 
invaders, or whether the Chams were already hinduized when 
they arrived, possibly from Java. 

The inferiority of the Chams to the Khmers in civilization 
was the result of their more troubled history. Both countries 
had to contend against the same difficulty a powerful and 
aggressive neighbour on either side. Camboja between Siam and 
Annam in 1800 was in very much the same position as Champa 
had been between Camboja and Annam five hundred years 
earlier. But between 950 and 1150 A.D. when Champa by no 
means enjoyed stability and peace, the history of Camboja, if 
not altogether tranquil, at least records several long reigns of 
powerful kings who were able to embellish their capital and 
assure its security. The Chams were exposed to attacks not only 

1 Corpus, n. p. 11, and Finot, Notes d fipig. pp. 227 ff. 

xxxix J CHAMPA 139 

from Annam but also from the more formidable if distant 
Chinese and their capital, instead of remaining stationary 
through several centuries like Angkor Thorn, was frequently 
moved as one or other of the three provinces became more 

The inscription of Vo-can is in correct Sanskrit prose and 
contains a fragmentary address from a king who seems to have 
been a Buddhist and writes somewhat in the style of Asoka. He 
boasts that he is of the family of Srimararaja. The letters closely 
resemble those of Rudradaman s inscription at Girnar and con 
temporary inscriptions at Kanheri. The text is much mutilated 
so that we know neither the name of the writer nor his relation 
ship to Srimara. But the latter was evidently the founder of 
the dynasty and may have been separated from his descendant 
by several generations. It is noticeable that his name does not 
end in Varman, like those of later kings. If he lived at the end 
of the second century this would harmonize with the oldest 
Chinese notices which fix the rise of Lin-I (their name for 
Champa) about 192 A.D. 1 Agreeably to this we also hear that 
Hun T ien founded an Indian kingdom in Fu-nan considerably 
before 265 A.D. and that some time between 220 and 280 a king 
of Fu-nan sent an embassy to India. The name Fu-nan may 
include Champa. But though we hear of Hindu kingdoms in 
these districts at an early date we know nothing of their 
civilization or history, nor do we obtain much information from 
those Cham legends which represent the dynasties of Champa 
as descended from two clans, those of the cabbage palm 
(arequier) and cocoanut. 

Chinese sources also state that a king called Fan-yi sent an 
embassy to China in 284 and give the names of several kings 
who reigned between 336 and 440. One of these, Fan-hu-ta, is 
apparently the Bhadravarman who has left some Sanskrit 
inscriptions dating from about 400 and who built the first 
temple at Mi-so n. This became the national sanctuary of 
Champa: it was burnt down about 575 A.D. but rebuilt. 
Bhadravarman s son Gangaraja appears to have abdicated and 
to have gone on a pilgrimage to the Ganges 2 another instance 
of the intercourse prevailing between these regions and India. 

1 See authorities quoted by Maspero, Toung Poo, 1910, p. 329. 

2 Finot in B.E.F.E.O. 1904, pp. 918 and 922. 

E. in. 10 


It would be useless to follow in detail the long chronicle of 
the kings of Champa but a few events merit mention. In 446 
and again in 605 the Chinese invaded the country and severely 
chastised the inhabitants. But the second invasion was followed 
by a period of peace and prosperity. Sambhuvarman (f 629) 
restored the temples of Mi-so n and two of his successors, both 
called Vikrantavarman, were also great builders. The kings who 
reigned from 758 to 859, reckoned as the fifth dynasty, belonged 
to the south and had their capital at Virapura. The change seems 
to have been important, for the Chinese who had previously 
called the country Lin-I, henceforth call it Huan-wang. The 
natives continued to use the name Champa but Satyavarman 
and the other kings of the dynasty do not mention Mi-so n 
though they adorned and endowed Po-nagar and other sanctuaries 
in the south. It was during this period (A.D. 774 and 787) that 
the province of Kauthara was invaded by pirates, described as 
thin black barbarians and cannibals, and also as the armies of 
Java 1 . They pillaged the temples but were eventually expelled. 
They were probably Malays but it is difficult to believe that the 
Javanese could be seriously accused of cannibalism at this 
period 2 . 

The capital continued to be transferred under subsequent 
dynasties. Under the sixth (860-900) it was at Indrapura in the 
north: under the seventh (900-986) it returned to the south: 
under the eighth (989-1044) it was in Vijaya, the central pro 
vince. These internal changes were accompanied by foreign 
attacks. The Khmers invaded the southern province in 945. On 
the north an Annamite Prince founded the kingdom of Dai-co- 
viet, which became a thorn in the side of Champa. In 982 its 
armies destroyed Indrapura, and in 1044 they captured Vijaya. 
In 1069 King Rudravarman was taken prisoner but was released 
in return for the cession of the three northernmost provinces. 
Indrapura however was rebuilt and for a time successful wars 
were waged against Camboja, but though the kings of Champa 
did not acquiesce in the loss of the northern provinces, arid 

1 Corpus, ii. Sttle de Po Nagar, pp. 252 ff. and Stile de Yang Tikuh, p. 208, etc. 

2 The statements that they came from Java and were cannibals occur in different 
inscriptions and may conceivably refer to two bodies of invaders. But the dates 
are very near. Probably Java is not the island now so called. See the chapter on 
Camboja, sec. 2. The undoubted references in the inscriptions of Champa to the 
island of Java call it Yavadvipa. 

xxxix] CHAMPA 141 

though Harivarman III (1074r-80) was temporarily victorious, 
no real progress was made in the contest with Annam, whither 
the Chams had to send embassies practically admitting that 
they were a vassal state. In the next century further disastrous 
quarrels with Camboja ensued and in 1192 Champa was split 
into two kingdoms, Vijaya in the north under a Cambojan 
prince and Panran in the south governed by a Cham prince but 
under the suzerainty of Camboja. This arrangement was not 
successful and after much fighting Champa became a Khmer 
province though a very unruly one from 1203 till 1220. Subse 
quently the aggressive vigour of the Khmers was tempered by 
their own wars with Siam. But it was not the fate of Champa 
to be left in peace. The invasion of Khubilai lasted from 1278 to 
1285 and in 1306 the provinces of 6 and Ly were ceded to Annam. 

Champa now became for practical purposes an Annamite 
province and in 1318 the king fled to Java for refuge. This 
connection with Java is interesting and there are other instances 
of it. King Jaya Simhavarman III (f 1307) of Champa married 
a Javanese princess called Tapasi. Later we hear in Javanese 
records that in the fifteenth century the princess Darawati of 
Champa married the king of Madjapahit and her sister married 
Raden Radmat, a prominent Moslim teacher in Java 1 . 

The power of the Chams was crushed by Annam in 1470. 
After this date they had little political importance but continued 
to exist as a nationality under their own rulers. In 1650 they 
revolted against Annam without success and the king was 
captured. But his widow was accorded a titular position and the 
Cham chronicle 2 continues the list of nominal kings down to 1822. 

In Champa, as in Camboja, no books dating from the Hindu 
period have been preserved and probably there were not many. 
The Cham language appears not to have been used for literary 
purposes and whatever culture existed was exclusively Sanskrit. 
The kings are credited with an extensive knowledge of Sanskrit 
literature. An inscription at Po-nagar 3 (918 A. D.) says that Sri 
Indravarman was acquainted with the Mimamsa and other 

1 Veth. Java, I. p. 233. 

2 See "La Chronique Royale," B.E.F.E.O. 1905, p. 377. 

3 Corpus, ii. p. 259. Jinendra may be a name either of the Buddha or of a gram 
marian. The mention of the KaSika vritti is important as showing that this work 
must be anterior to the ninth century. The Uttara Kalpa is quoted in the Tantras 
(see Bergaigne s note), but nothing is known of it. 


systems of philosophy, Jinendra, and grammar together with 
the Kasika (vritti) and the Saivottara-Kalpa. Again an inscrip 
tion of Mi-son 1 ascribes to Jaya Indravarmadeva (c. 1175 A.D.) 
proficiency in all the sciences as well as a knowledge of the 
Mahayana and the Dharmasastras, particularly the Naradiya 
and Bhargaviya. To some extent original compositions in 
Sanskrit must have been produced, for several of the inscriptions 
are of considerable length and one 2 gives a quotation from a 
work called the Puranartha or Arthapuranasastra which appears 
to have been a chronicle of Champa. But the language of the 
inscriptions is often careless and incorrect and indicates that 
the study of Sanskrit was less flourishing than in Camboja. 

The monuments of Champa, though considerable in size and 
number, are inferior to those of Camboja. The individual 
buildings are smaller and simpler and the groups into which 
they are combined lack unity. Brick was the chief material, 
stone being used only when brick would not serve, as for statues 
and lintels. The commonest type of edifice is a square pyramidal 
structure called by the Chams Kalan. A Kalan is as a rule 
erected on a hill or rising ground: its lowest storey has on the 
east a porch and vestibule, on the other three sides false doors. 
The same shape is repeated in four upper storeys of decreasing 
size which however serve merely for external decoration and 
correspond to nothing in the interior. This is a single windowless 
pyramidal cell lighted by the door and probably also by lamps 
placed in niches on the inner walls. In the centre stood a 
pedestal for a linga or an image, with a channel to carry off 
libations, leading to a spout in the wall. The outline of the tower 
is often varied by projecting figures or ornaments, but the 
sculpture is less lavish than in Camboja and Java. 

In the greater religious sites several structures are grouped 
together. A square wall surrounds an enclosure entered by a 
gateway and containing one or more Kalans, as well as smaller 
buildings, probably for the use of priests. Before the gateway 
there is frequently a hall supported by columns but open at the 

1 B.E.F E.O. 1904, p. 973. 

2 From Mi-son, date 1157 A.D. See B.E.F. E.O. 1904, pp. 961 and 963. 

xxxix] CHAMPA 143 

All known specimens of Cham architecture are temples; 
palaces and other secular buildings were made of wood and 
have disappeared. Of the many sanctuaries which have been 
discovered, the most remarkable are those of Mi-son, and Dong 
Duong, both in the neighbourhood of Tourane, and Po Nagar 
close to Nhatrang. 

Mi-son 1 is an undulating amphitheatre among mountains and 
contains eight or nine groups of temples, founded at different 
times. The earliest structures, erected by Bhadravarman I 
about 400, have disappeared 2 and were probably of wood, since 
we hear that they were burnt (apparently by an accident) in 
575 A.D. New temples were constructed by Sambhuvarman 
about twenty-five years later and were dedicated to Sambhu- 
bhadresvara, in which title the names of the founder, restorer 
and the deity are combined. These buildings, of which portions 
remain, represent the oldest and best period of Cham art. 
Another style begins under Vikrantavarman I between 657 and 
679 A.D. This reign marks a period of decadence and though 
several buildings were erected at Mi-son during the eighth and 
ninth centuries, the locality was comparatively neglected 3 until 
the reign of Harivarman III (1074^1080). The temples had been 
ravaged by the Annamites but this king, being a successful 
warrior, was able to restore them and dedicated to them the 
booty which he had captured. Though his reign marks a period 
of temporary prosperity in the annals of Champa, the style 
which he inaugurated in architecture has little originality. It 
reverts to the ancient forms but shows conscious archaism 
rather than fresh vigour. The position of Mi-son, however, did 
not decline and about 1155 Jaya Harivarman I repaired the 
buildings, dedicated the booty taken in battle and erected a new 
temple in fulfilment of a vow. But after this period the princes 
of Champa had no authority in the district of Mi-son, and the 
Annamites, who seem to have disliked the religion of the Chams, 
plundered the temples. 

1 = Chinese Mei shan, beautiful mountain. For an account of the temples and 
their history see the articles by Parmentier and Finot, B.E.F.E.O. 1904, pp. 805- 

2 But contemporary inscriptions have been discovered. B.E.F.E.O. 1902, pp. 
185 ff. 

3 Doubtless because the capital was transferred to the south where the shrine of 
Po-nagar had rival claims. 


Ponagar 1 is near the port of Nha-trang and overlooks the 
sea. Being smaller that Mi-son it has more unity but still shows 
little attempt to combine in one architectural whole the buildings 
of which it is composed. 

An inscription 2 states with curious precision that the shrine 
was first erected in the year 5911 of the Dvapara age and this 
fantastic chronology shows that in our tenth century it was 
regarded as ancient. As at Mi-son, the original buildings were 
probably of wood for in 774 they were sacked and burnt by 
pirates who carried off the image 3 . Shortly afterwards they 
were rebuilt in brick by King Satyavarman and the existing 
southern tower probably dates from his reign, but the great 
central tower was built by Harivarman I (817 A.D.) and the 
other edifices are later. 

Po Nagar or Yang Po Nagar means the Lady or Goddess of 
the city. She was commonly called Bhagavati in Sanskrit 4 and 
appears to have been the chief object of worship at Nha-trang, 
although Siva was associated with her under the name of 
Bhagavatisvara. In 1050 an ardhanari image representing Siva 
and Bhagavati combined in one figure was presented to the 
temple by King Paramesvara and a dedicatory inscription 
describes this double deity as the cosmic principle. 

When Champa was finally conquered the temple was sold to 
the Annamites, who admitted that they could not acquire it 
except by some special and peaceful arrangement. Even now 
they still continue the worship of the goddess though they no 
longer know who she is 5 . 

Dong Duong, about twenty kilometres to the south of Mi-son, 
marks the site of the ancient capital Indrapura. The monument 
which has made its name known differs from those already 
described. Compared with them it has some pretensions to be 
a whole, laid out on a definite plan and it is Buddhist. It 
consists of three courts 6 surrounded by walls and entered by 
massive porticoes. In the third there are about twenty buildings 

1 See especially the article by Parmentier, B.E.F.E.O. 1902, pp. 17-54. 
3 XXVI Corpus, n. pp. 244, 256; date 918 A.D. 

3 &vamukham: probably a mukhalinga. 

4 Also Yapunagara even in Sanskrit inscriptions. 
6 Parmentier, I.e. p. 49. 

6 This is only a very rough description of a rather complicated structure. For 
details see Parmentier, Monuments dams, planche XCVHI. 

xxxix] CHAMPA 145 

and perhaps it did not escape the fault common to Cham 
architecture of presenting a collection of disconnected and un 
related edifices, but still there is clearly an attempt to lead up 
from the outermost portico through halls and gateways to the 
principal shrine. From an inscription dated 875 A. D. we learn 
that the ruins are those of a temple and vihara erected by King 
Indravarman and dedicated to Avalokita under the name of 
Lakshmindra Lokesvara. 


The religion of Champa was practically identical with that 
of Camboja. If the inscriptions of the former tell us more about 
mukhalingas and koshas and those of the latter have more 
allusions to the worship of the compound deity Hari-hara, this 
is probably a matter of chance. But even supposing that 
different cults were specially prominent at different places, it 
seems clear that all the gods and ceremonies known in Camboja 
were also known in Champa and vice versa. In both countries 
the national religion was Hinduism, mainly of the Sivaite type, 
accompanied by Mahayanist Buddhism which occasionally came 
to the front under royal patronage. In both any indigenous 
beliefs which may have existed did not form a separate system. 
It is probable however that the goddess known at Po-nagar as 
Bhagavati was an ancient local deity worshipped before the 
Hindu immigration and an inscription found at Mi-son recom 
mends those whose eyes are diseased to propitiate Kuvera and 
thus secure protection against Ekakshapingala, "the tawny 
one-eyed (spirit)." Though this goddess or demon was probably 
a creation of local fancy, similar identifications of Kali with the 
spirits presiding over cholera, smallpox, etc., take place in 

The social system was theoretically based on the four castes, 
but Chinese accounts indicate that in questions of marriage and 
inheritance older ideas connected with matriarchy and a division 
into clans still had weight. But the language of the inscriptions 
is most orthodox. King Vikrantavarman 1 quotes with approval 
the saying that the horse sacrifice is the best of good deeds and 
the murder of a Brahman the worst of sins. Brahmans, chap 
lains (purohita), pandits and ascetics are frequently mentioned 

1 Inscrip. at Mi-son of 658 A.D. See B.E.F.E.O. 1904, p. 921. 


as worthy of honour and gifts. The high priest or royal chaplain 
is styled Sriparamapurohita but it does not appear that there 
was a sacerdotal family enjoying the unique position held by 
the Sivakaivalyas in Camboja. The frequent changes of capital 
and dynasty in Champa were unfavourable to continuity in 
either Church or State. 

Sivaism, without any hostility to Vishnuism or Buddhism, 
was the dominant creed. The earliest known inscription, that of 
Vo-can, contains indications of Buddhism, but three others 
believed to date from about 400 A.D. invoke Siva under some 
such title as Bhadresvara, indicating that a temple had been 
dedicated to him by King Bhadravarman. Thus the practice of 
combining the names of a king and his patron deity in one 
appellation existed in Champa at this early date 1 . It is also 
recorded from southern India, Camboja and Java. Besides Siva 
one of the inscriptions venerates, though in a rather perfunctory 
manner, Uma, Brahma, Vishnu and the five elements. Several 
inscriptions 2 give details of Sivaite theology which agree with 
what we know of it in Camboja. The world animate and in 
animate is an emanation from Siva, but he delivers from the 
world those who think of him. Meditation, the practice of Yoga, 
and devotion to Siva are several times mentioned with approval 3 . 
He abides in eight forms corresponding to his eight names 
Sarva, Bhava, Pasupati, Isana, Bhima, Rudra, Mahadeva, and 
Ugra. He is also, as in Java, Guru or the teacher and he has 
the usual mythological epithets. He dances in lonely places, he 
rides on the bull Nandi, is the slayer of Kama, etc. Though 
represented by figures embodying such legends he was most 
commonly adored under the form of the linga which in Champa 
more than elsewhere came to be regarded as not merely 
symbolic but as a personal god. To mark this individuality it 
was commonly enclosed in a metal case (kosha) bearing one or 
more human faces 4 . It was then called mukhalinga and the 

1 Other examples are IndrabhadresVara, Corpus, n. p. 208. HarivarmesVara, 
B.E.F.E.O. 1904, p. 961. 

3 E.g. B.E.F.E.O. pp. 918 ff. Dates 658 A.D. onwards. 

3 Yogaddhyana, Sivaradha, Sivabhakti. See B.E.F.E.O. 1904, pp. 933-950. 
Harivarman III abdicated in 1080 and gave himself up to contemplation and 
devotion to Siva. 

4 See B.E.F.E.O. 1904, pp. 912 ff. and esp. p. 970. I have seen a kosha which 
is still in use in the neighbourhood of Badami. It is kept in a village called Nandike- 

xxxixj CHAMPA 147 

faces were probably intended as portraits of royal donors, 
identified with the god in form as well as in name. An in 
scription of 1163A.D. records the dedication of such a kosha, 
adorned with five royal faces, to Srisanabhadresvara. The god, 
it is said, will now be able to give his blessing to all regions 
through his five mouths which he could not do before, and being 
enclosed in the kosha, like an embryo in the matrix, he becomes 
Hiranyagarbha. The linga, with or without these ornaments, 
was set on a sndnadroni or stone table arranged for receiving 
libations, and sometimes (as in Java and Camboja) four or more 
lingas were set upon a single slab. From A.D. 400 onwards, the 
cult of Siva seems to have maintained its paramount position 
during the whole history of Champa, for the last recorded 
Sanskrit inscription is dedicated to him. From first to last it 
was the state religion. Siva is said to have sent Uroja to be the 
first king and is even styled the root of the state of Champa. 

An inscription 1 of 81 1 A.D. celebrates the dual deity Sankara- 
Narayana. It is noticeable that Narayana is said to have held 
up Mt Govardhana and is apparently identified with Krishna. 
Rama and Krishna are both mentioned in an inscription of 
1157 which states that the whole divinity of Vishnu was 
incarnate in King Jaya Harivarman I 2 . But neither allusions 
to Vishnu nor figures of him 3 are numerous and he plays the 
part of an accessory though respected personage. Garuda, on 
whom he rides, was better known than the god himself and is 
frequently represented in sculpture. 

The Sakti of Siva, amalgamated as mentioned with a native 
goddess, received great honour (especially at Nhatrang) under 
the names of Uma, Bhagavati, the Lady of the city (Yang Po 
Nagar) and the goddess of Kauthara. In another form or aspect 

sVara, but on certain festivals it is put on a linga at the temple of Mahakut. 
It is about 2 feet high and 10 inches broad; a silver case with a rounded and orna 
mented top. On one side is a single face in bold embossed work and bearing fine 
moustaches exactly as in the mukhalingas of Champa. In the tank of the temple of 
Mahakut is a half submerged shrine, from which rises a stone linga on which are 
carved four faces bearing moustaches. There is said to be a gold kosha set with 
jewels at Sringeri. See J. Mythic. Society (Bangalore), vol. vm. p. 27. According to 
Gopinatha Rao, Indian Iconography, vol. n. p. 63, the oldest known lingas have 
figures carved on them. 

1 Corpus, n. pp. 229, 230. 

2 B.E.F.E.O. 1904, pp. 959, 960. 

8 See for an account of same B.E.F.E.O. 1901, p. 18. 


she was called Maladakuthara 1 . There was also a temple of 
Ganesa (Sri-Vinayaka) at Nhatrang but statues of this deity 
and of Skanda are rare. 

The Chinese pilgrim I-Ching, writing in the last year of the 
seventh century, includes Champa (Lin-I) in the list of countries 
which "greatly reverence the three jewels" and contrasts it 
with Fu-nan where a wicked king had recently almost exter 
minated Buddhism. He says "In this country Buddhists 
generally belong to the Arya-sammiti school, and there are also 
a few followers of the Aryasarvastivadin school." The statement 
is remarkable, for he also tells us that the Sarvastivadins were 
the predominant sect in the Malay Archipelago and flourished 
in southern China. The headquarters of the Sammitiyas were, 
according to the accounts of both Hsiian Chuang and I-Ching, 
in western India though, like the three other schools, they were 
also found in Magadha and eastern India. We also hear that 
the brother and sister of the Emperor Harsha belonged to this 
sect and it was probably influential. How it spread to Champa 
we do not know, nor do the inscriptions mention its name or 
indicate that the Buddhism which they knew was anything but 
the mixture of the Mahayana with Sivaism 2 which prevailed in 

I-Ching s statements can hardly be interpreted to mean that 
Buddhism was the official religion of Champa at any rate after 
400 A.D., for the inscriptions abundantly prove that the Sivaite 
shrines of Mi-son and Po-nagar were so to speak national 
cathedrals where the kings worshipped on behalf of the country. 
But the Vo-can inscription (? 250 A.D.), though it does not 
mention Buddhism, appears to be Buddhist, and it would be 
quite natural that a dynasty founded about 150 A.D. should be 
Buddhist but that intercourse with Camboja and probably with 
India should strengthen Sivaism. The Chinese annals mention 3 
that 1350 Buddhist books were carried off during a Chinese 
invasion in 605 A.D. and this allusion implies the existence of 
Buddhism and monasteries with libraries. As hi Camboja it was 

1 Corpus, n. p. 282. 

2 In several passages Hsiian Chuang notes that there were PaSupatas or other 
Sivaites in the same towns of India where Sammitiyas were found. See Watters, 
Yuan Chwang, i. 331, 333; n. 47, 242, 256, 258, 259. 

3 Maspero, T&ung Poo, 1910, p. 514. 

xxxix] CHAMPA 149 

perhaps followed by ministers rather than by kings. An 
inscription found 1 in southern Champa and dated as 829 A.D. 
records how a sthavira named Buddhanirvana erected two 
viharas and two temples (devakula) to Jina and Sankara 
(Buddha and Siva) in honour of his deceased father. Shortly 
afterwards there came to the throne Indravarman II (860-890 
A.D.), the only king of Champa who is known to have been a 
fervent Buddhist. He did not fail to honour Siva as the patron 
of his kingdom but like Asoka he was an enthusiast for the 
Dharma 2 . He desires the knowledge of the Dharma: he builds 
monasteries for the sake of the Dharma : he wishes to propagate 
it: he even says that the king of the gods governs heaven by 
the principles of Dharma. He wishes to lead all his subjects to 
the "yoke and abode of Buddha," to "the city of deliverance." 

To this end he founded the vihara of Dong Duong, already 
described, and dedicated it to Sri Lakshmindra Lokesvara 3 . 
This last word is a synonym of Avalokita, which also occurs 
in the dedicatory inscription but in a fragmentary passage. 
Lakshmindra is explained by other passages in the inscription 
from which we learn that the king s name before he ascended 
the throne was Lakshmindra Bhumisvara, so that the Bodhi- 
sattva is here adored under the name of the king who erected 
the vihara according to the custom prevalent in Sivaite temples. 
Like those temples this vihara received an endowment of land and 
slaves of both sexes, as well as gold, silver and other metals 4 . 

A king who reigned from 1080 to 1086 was called Parama- 
bodhisattva, but no further epigraphic records of Buddhism are 
known until the reigns of Jaya Indravarmadeva (1167-1192) 
and his successor Suryavarmadeva 6 . Both of these monarchs, 
while worshipping Siva, are described as knowing or practising 
the jnana or dharma of the Mahay ana. Little emphasis seems 
to be laid on these expressions but still they imply that the 

1 At Yang Kur. See Corpus, u. pp. 237-241. 

2 For his views see his inscriptions in B.E.F.E.O. 1904, pp. 85 ff. But kings who 
are not known to have been Buddhists also speak of Dharma. B.E.F.E.O. 1904, 
pp. 922, 945. 

3 Apparently special forms of deities such as Jri6anabhadresVara or Lakshminda 
LokesVara were regarded as to some extent separate existences. Thus the former 
is called a portion of Siva, B.E.F.E.O. 1904, p. 973. 

* Presumably in the form of vessels. 

* B.E.F.E.O. 1904, pp. 973-975. 


Mahayana was respected and considered part of the royal 
religion. Suryavarmadeva erected a building called Sri Heruka- 
harmya 1 . The title is interesting for it contains the name of the 
Tantric Buddha Heruka. 

The grotto of Phong-nha 2 in the extreme north of Champa 
(province of Quang Binh) must have been a Buddhist shrine. 
Numerous medallions in clay bearing representations of Buddhas, 
Bodhisattvas and Dagobas have been found there but dates are 

It does not appear that the Hinayanist influence which 
became predominant in Camboja extended to Champa. That 
influence came from Siam and before it had time to traverse 
Camboja, Champa was already in the grip of the Annamites, 
whose religion with the rest of their civilization came from China 
rather than India. Chinese culture and writing spread to the 
Cambojan frontier and after the decay of Champa, Camboja 
marks the permanent limit within which an Indian alphabet 
and a form of Buddhism not derived through China have 
maintained themselves. 

A large number of the Chams were converted to Moham 
medanism but the time and circumstances of the event are 
unknown. When Friar Gabriel visited the country at the end 
of the sixteenth century a form of Hinduism seems to have been 
still prevalent 3 . It would be of interest to know how the change 
of religion was effected, for history repeats itself and it is likely 
that the Moslims arrived in Champa by the route followed 
centuries before by the Hindu invaders. 

There are still about 130,000 Chams in the south of Annam 
and Camboja. In the latter country they are all Mohammedans. 
In Annam some traces of Hinduism remain, such as mantras in 
broken Sanskrit and hereditary priests called Basaih. Both 
religions have become unusually corrupt but are interesting as 
showing how beliefs which are radically distinct become dis 
torted and combined in Eastern Asia 4 . 

1 B.E.F.E.O. 1904, p. 975. 

2 76. 1901, p. 23, and Parmentier, Inventaire des Monuments Chams, p. 542. 

3 Gabriel de San Antonio, Breve y verdadera relation de los successes de Reyno de 
Camboxa, 1604. 

4 See for the modern Chams the article "Chams" in E.R.E. and Ethics, and 
Durand, "Les Chains Bani," B.E.F.E.O. 1903, and "Notes sur les Chams," ib. 


IN most of the countries which we have been considering, the 
native civilization of the present day is still Indian in origin, 
although in the former territories of Champa this Indian phase 
has been superseded by Chinese culture with a little Moham 
medanism. But in another area we find three successive stages 
of culture, indigenous, Indian and Mohammedan. This area 
includes the Malay Peninsula with a large part of the Malay 
Archipelago, and the earliest stratum with which we need con 
cern ourselves is Malay. The people who bear this name are 
remarkable for their extraordinary powers of migration by sea, 
as shown by the fact that languages connected with Malay 
are spoken in Formosa and New Zealand, in Easter Island and 
Madagascar, but their originality both in thought and in the 
arts of life is small. The three stages are seen most clearly 
in Java where the population was receptive and the interior 
accessible. Sumatra and Borneo also passed through them in 
a fashion but the indigenous element is still predominant and 
no foreign influence has been able to affect either island as a 
whole. Islam gained no footing in Bali which remains curiously 
Hindu but it reached Celebes and the southern Philippines, in 
both of which Indian influence was slight 1 . The destiny of south 
eastern Asia with its islands depends on the fact that the tide 
of trade and conquest whether Hindu, Moslim or European, 
flowed from India or Ceylon to the Malay Peninsula and Java 
and thence northwards towards China with a reflux westwards in 
Champa and Camboja. Burma and Siam lay outside this track. 
They received their culture from India mainly by land and were 
untouched by Mohammedanism. But the Mohammedan current 

1 I have not been able to find anything more than casual and second-hand 
statements to the effect that Indian antiquities have been found in these islands. 


which affected the Malays was old and continuous. It started 
from Arabia in the early days of the Hijra and had nothing to 
do with the Moslim invasions which entered India by land. 

Indian civilization appears to have existed in Java from at 
least the fifth century of our era 1 . Much light has been thrown 
on its history of late by the examination of inscriptions and of 
fairly ancient literature but the record still remains fragmentary. 
There are considerable gaps : the seat of power shifted from one 
district to another and at most epochs the whole island was not 
subject to one ruler, so that the title king of Java merely 
indicates a prince pre-eminent among others doubtfully sub 
ordinate to him. 

The name Java is probably the Sanskrit Yava used in the 
sense of grain, especially millet. In the Ramayana 2 the monkeys 
of Hanuman are bidden to seek for Sita in various places in 
cluding Yava-dvipa, which contains seven kingdoms and pro 
duces gold and silver. Others translate these last words as 
referring to another or two other islands known as Gold and 
Silver Land. It is probable that the poet did not distinguish 
clearly between Java and Sumatra. He goes on to say that 
beyond Java is the peak called Sisira. This is possibly the same 
as the Yavakoti mentioned in 499 A.D. by the Indian astronomer 

1 There is no lack of scholarly and scientific works about Java, but they are 
mostly written in Dutch and dissertations on special points are more numerous 
than general surveys of Javanese history, literature and architecture. Perhaps the 
best general account of the Hindu period in Java will be found in the chapter con 
tributed by Kern to the publication called Neerlands Indie (Amsterdam, 1911, 
chap. vi. n. pp. 219-242). The abundant publications of the Bataviaasch Genoot- 
schap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen comprise Verhandelingen, Notulen, and the 
Tijdschrift voor Indische Taal-, Land-, en Volkenkunde (cited here as Tijdschrift), 
all of which contain numerous and important articles on history, philology, religion 
and archaeology. The last is treated specially in the publications called Archaeo- 
logisch Onderzoek op Java en Madura. Veth s Java, vols. I. and iv. and various 
articles in the Encyclopaedic van Nederlandsch-Indie may also be consulted. I have 
endeavoured to mention the more important editions of Javanese books as well as 
works dealing specially with the old religion in the notes to these chapters. 

Although Dutch orthography is neither convenient nor familiar to most readers 
I have thought it better to preserve it in transcribing Javanese. In this system of 
transcription j-=y; tj =ch; dj =j; sj =sh; w=v; oe = u. 

2 Ram. iv. 40, 30. Yavadvipam saptarajyopasobhitam Suvarnarupyakadvipam 


Since the Ramayana is a product of gradual growth it is 
not easy to assign a definite date to this passage, but it is 
probably not later than the first or second century A.D. and an 
early date is rendered probable by the fact that the Alexandrian 
Geographer Ptolemy (c. 130 A.D.) mentions 1 N^crc? laftaSiov rj 
ZajSaSiov and by various notices collected from inscriptions and 
from Chinese historians. The annals of the Liang Dynasty 
(502-556 A.D.) in speaking of the countries of the Southern 
Ocean say that in the reign of Hsiian Ti (73-49 B.C.) the 
Romans and Indians sent envoys to China by that route 2 , thus 
indicating that the Archipelago was frequented by Hindus. The 
same work describes under the name of Lang-ya-hsiu a country 
which professed Buddhism and used the Sanskrit language and 
states that "the people say that their country was established 
more than 400 years ago 3 ." Lang-ya-hsiu has been located by 
some in Java by others in the Malay Peninsula, but even on the 
latter supposition this testimony to Indian influence in the Far 
East is still important. An inscription found at Kedah in the 
Malay Peninsula is believed to be older than 400 A.D. 4 No 
more definite accounts are forthcoming before the fifth or sixth 
century. Fa-Hsien 5 relates how in 418 he returned to China 
from India by sea and "arrived at a country called Ya-va-di." 
"In this country" he says "heretics and Brahmans flourish but 
the law of Buddha hardly deserves mentioning 6 ." Three in 
scriptions found in west Java in the district of Buitenzorg are 
referred for palseographic reasons to about 400 A.D. They are 
all in Sanskrit and eulogize a prince named Purnavarman, who 
appears to have been a Vishnuite. The name of his capital is 

1 Ptolemy s Geography, vn. 2. 29 (see also vm. 27, 10). lafiadlov (T) Z 
6 o"r)/j.alvei Kpidrjs, vrjffos. Ei)0opwrdr77 de X^-yercu 17 vfjffo? elvai Ka.1 n TT\L< 
TroietJ , ZX LV T wrpbiroKtv OVO/J.CL A.pyvprjv TTL rois Si tr/xi/tots Trtpaatv. 

2 The Milinda Panha of doubtful but not very late date also mentions voyages 
to China. 

3 Groeneveldt, Notes on the Malay Archipelago compiled from Chinese sources, 
1876 (cited below as Groeneveldt), p. 10. Confirmed by the statement in the Ming 
annals book 324 that in 1432 the Javanese said their kingdom had been founded 
1376 years before. 

4 Kern in Versl. en Med. K. Ak. v. W. Afd. Lett. 3 Rks. i. 1884, pp. 5-12. 
6 Chap. XL. Legge, p. 113, and Groeneveldt, pp. 6-9. 

8 He perhaps landed in the present district of Rembang "where according to 
native tradition the first Hindu settlement was situated at that time" (Groeneveldt, 
p. 9). 


deciphered as Naruma or Taruma. In 435 according to the Liu 
Sung annals 1 a king of Ja-va-da named Shih-li-pa-da-do-a-la-pa- 
mo sent tribute to China. The king s name probably represents 
a Sanskrit title beginning with Sri-Pada and it is noticeable that 
two footprints are carved on the stones which bear Purnavarman s 
inscriptions. Also Sanskrit inscriptions found at Koetei on the 
east coast of Borneo and considered to be not later than the 
fifth century record the piety and gifts to Brahmans of a King 
Mulavarman and mention his father and grandfather 2 . 

It follows from these somewhat disjointed facts that the 
name of Yava-dvipa was known in India soon after the Christian 
era, and that by the fifth century Hindu or hinduized states 
had been established in Java. The discovery of early Sanskrit 
inscriptions in Borneo and Champa confirms the presence of 
Hindus in these seas. The T ang annals 3 speak definitely of 
Kaling, otherwise called Java, as lying between Sumatra and 
Bali and say that the inhabitants have letters and under 
stand a little astronomy. They further mention the presence of 
Arabs and say that in 674 a queen named Sima ascended the 
throne and ruled justly. 

But the certain data for Javanese history before the eighth 
century are few. For that period we have some evidence from 
Java itself. An inscription dated 654 Saka (= 732 A. D.) dis 
covered in Kedoe celebrates the praises of a king named 
Sanjaya, son of King Sanna. It contains an account of the 
dedication of a linga, invocations of Siva, Brahma and Vishnu, 
a eulogy of the king s virtue and learning, and praise of Java. 
Thus about 700 A.D. there was a Hindu kingdom in mid Java 
and this, it would seem, was then the part of the island most 
important politically. Buddhist inscriptions of a somewhat later 
date (one is of 778 A.D.) have been found in the neighbourhood 
of Prambanam. They are written in the Nagari alphabet and 
record various pious foundations. A little later again (809 and 
840 A.D.) are the inscriptions found on the Dieng (Dihyang), a 

1 Groeneveldt, p. 9. The transcriptions of Chinese characters given in the follow 
ing pages do not represent the modern sound but seem justified (though they cannot 
be regarded as certain) by the instances collected in Julien s Methode pour dechijfrer 
et transcrire les noms sanscrits. Possibly the syllables Do-a-lo-pa-mo are partly 
corrupt and somehow or other represent Purnavarman. 

2 Kern in Versl. en Meded. Afd. Lett. 2 R. xi. D. 1882. 

3 Groeneveldt, pp. 12, 13. 


lonely mountain plateau on which are several Brahmanic 
shrines in fair preservation. There is no record of their builders 
but the NewT ang Annals say that the royal residence was called 
Java but "on the mountains is the district Lang-pi-ya where 
the king frequently goes to look at the sea 1 ." This may possibly 
be a reference to pilgrimages to Dieng. The inscriptions found 
on the great monument of Boroboedoer throw no light on the 
circumstances of its foundation, but the character of the writing 
makes it likely that it was erected about 850 and obviously by 
a king who could command the services of numerous workmen 
as well as of skilled artists. The temples of Prambanam are 
probably to be assigned to the next century. All these buildings 
indicate the existence from the eighth to the tenth century of 
a considerable kingdom (or perhaps kingdoms) in middle Java, 
comprising at least the regions of Mataram, Kedoe and the 
Dieng plateau. From the Arabic geographers also we learn that 
Java was powerful in the ninth century and attacked Qamar 
(probably Khmer or Camboja). They place the capital at the 
mouth of a river, perhaps the Solo or Brantas. If so, there 
must have been a principality in east Java at this period. This 
is not improbable for archaeological evidence indicates that 
Hindu civilization moved eastwards and flourished first in the 
west, then in mid Java and finally from the ninth to the fifteenth 
centuries in the east. 

The evidence at our disposal points to the fact that Java 
received most of its civilization from Hindu colonists, but who 
were these colonists and from what part of India did they come ? 
We must not think of any sudden and definite conquest, but 
rather of a continuous current of immigration starting perhaps 
from several springs and often merely trickling, but occasionally 
swelling into a flood. Native traditions collected by Raffles 2 
ascribe the introduction of Brahmanism and the Saka era to 
the sage Tritresta and represent the invaders as coming from 
Kalinga or from Gujarat. 

The difference of locality may be due to the fact that there 
was a trade route running from Broach to Masulipatam through 
Tagara (now Ter). People arriving in the Far East by this route 
might be described as coming either from Kalinga, where they 

1 Groeneveldt, p. 14. 

a History of Java, vol. II. chap. x. 

. III. 

1 1 


embarked, or from Gujarat, their country of origin. Dubious 
as is the authority of these legends, they perhaps preserve the 
facts in outline. The earliest Javanese inscriptions are written 
in a variety of the Vengi script and the T ang annals call the 
island Kaling as well as Java. It is therefore probable that 
early tradition represented Kalinga as the home of the Hindu 
invaders. But later immigrants may have come from other 
parts. Fa-Hsien could find no Buddhists in Java in 418, but 
Indian forms of Mahayanism indubitably flourished there in 
later centuries. The Kalasan inscription dated 778 A.D. and 
engraved in Nagari characters records the erection of a temple 
to Tara and of a Mahayanist monastery. The change in both 
alphabet and religion suggests the arrival of new influences from 
another district and the Javanese traditions about Gujarat are 
said to find an echo among the bards of western India and in 
such proverbs as, they who go to Java come not back 1 . In the 
period of the Hunnish and Arab invasions there may have been 
many motives for emigration from Gujarat. The land route to 
Kalinga was probably open and the sea route offers no great 
difficulties 2 . 

Another indication of connection with north-western India 
is found in the Chinese work Kao Seng Chuan (5 19 A.D.) or 
Biographies of Eminent Monks, if the country there called 
She-p o can be identified with Java 3 . It is related that Guna- 
varman, son of the king of Kashmir, became a monk and, 
declining the throne, went first to Ceylon and then to the 
kingdom of She-p o, which he converted to Buddhism. He died 
at Nanking in 431 B.C. 

Taranatha 4 states that Indo-China which he calls the Koki 
country 5 , was first evangelized in the time of Asoka and that 

1 Jackson, Java and Cambodja. App. IV. in Bombay Gazetteer, vol. i. part 1, 1896. 

2 It is also possible that when the Javanese traditions speak of Kaling they 
mean the Malay Peninsula. Indians in those regions were commonly known as 
Kaling because they came from Kalinga and in time the parts of the Peninsula 
where they were numerous were also called Kaling. 

3 See for this question Pelliot in B.E.F.E.O. 1904, pp. 274 ff. Also Schlegel in 
Toung Pao, 1899, p. 247, and Chavannes, ib. 1904, p. 192. 

4 Chap, xxxix. Schiefner, p. 262. 

6 Though he expressly includes Camboja and Champa in Koki, it is only right 
to say that he mentions Nas-gling ( = Yava-dvipa) separately in another enumeration 
together with Ceylon. But if Buddhists passed in any numbers from India to Camboja 
and vice versa, they probably appeared in Java about the same time, or rather later. 


Mahayanism was introduced there by the disciples of Vasu- 
bandhu, who probably died about 360 A. D., so that the activity of 
his followers would take place in the fifth century. He also says 
that many clergy from the Koki country were in Madhyadesa 
from the time of Dharmapala (about 800 A.D.) onwards, and 
these two statements, if they can be accepted, certainly explain 
the character of Javanese and Cambojan Buddhism. Taranatha 
is a confused and untrustworthy writer, but his statement about 
the disciples of Vasubandhu is confirmed by the fact that 
Dignaga, who was one of them, is the only authority cited in 
the Kamahayanikan 1 . 

The fact that the terms connected with rice cultivation are 
Javanese and not loan-words indicates that the island had some 
indigenous civilization when the Hindus first settled there. 
Doubtless they often came with military strength, but on the 
whole as colonists and teachers rather than as conquerors. The 
Javanese kings of whom we know most appear to have been 
not members of Hindu dynasties but native princes who had 
adopted Hindu culture and religion. Sanskrit did not oust 
Javanese as the language of epigraphy, poetry and even religious 
literature. Javanese Buddhism appears to have preserved its 
powers of growth and to have developed some special doctrines. 
But Indian influence penetrated almost all institutions and is 
visible even to-day. Its existence is still testified to by the 
alphabet in use, by such titles as Arjo, Radja, Praboe, Dipati 
(= adhipati), and by various superstitions about lucky days and 
horoscopes. Communal land tenure of the Indian kind still 
exists and in former times grants of land were given to priests 
and, as in India, recorded on copper plates. Offerings to old 
statues are still made and the Tenggerese 2 are not even nominal 
Mohammedans. The Balinese still profess a species of Hinduism 
and employ a Hindu Calendar. 

From the tenth century onwards the history of Java becomes 
a little plainer. 

Copper plates dating from about 900 A.D. mention Mataram. 
A certain Mpoe Sindok was vizier of this kingdom in 919, but 
ten years later we find him an independent king in east Java. 

1 See Kamaha. pp. 9, 10, and Walters, Yuan Chwang, n. pp. 209-214. 

2 They preserve to some extent the old civilization of Madjapahit. See the 
article "Tengereezen" in Encyclopaedic van Nederlandsch-Indie. 


He lived at least twenty-five years longer and his possessions 
included Pasoeroean, Soerabaja and Kediri. His great-grandson, 
Er-langga (or Langghya), is an important figure. Er-langga s 
early life was involved in war, but in 1032 he was able to call 
himself, though perhaps not with great correctness, king of all 
Java. His memory has not endured among the Javanese but is 
still honoured in the traditions of Bali and Javanese literature 
began in his reign or a little earlier. The poem Arjuna-vivaha is 
dedicated to him, and one book of the old Javanese prose 
translation of the Mahabharata bears a date equivalent to 
996 A.D. 1 

One of the national heroes of Java is Djajabaja 2 who is 
supposed to have lived in the ninth century. But tradition 
must be wrong here, for the free poetic rendering of part of the 
Mahabharata called Bharata-Yuddha, composed by Mpoe Sedah 
in 1157 A.D., is dedicated to him, and his reign must therefore 
be placed later than the traditional date. He is said to have 
founded the kingdom of Daha in Kediri, but his inscriptions 
merely indicate that he was a worshipper of Vishnu. Literature 
and art flourished in east Java at this period for it would seem 
that the Kawi Ramayana and an ars poetica called Vritta- 
sancaya 3 were written about 1150 and that the temple of 
Panataran was built between 1150 and 1175. 

In western Java we have an inscription of 1030 found on 
the river Tjitjatih. It mentions a prince who is styled Lord of 
the World and native tradition, confirmed by inscriptions, 
which however give few details, relates that in the twelfth 
century a kingdom called Padjadjaran was founded in the 
Soenda country south of Batavia by princes from Toemapel in 
eastern Java. 

There is a gap in Javanese history from the reign of Djajabaja 
till 1222 at which date the Pararaton 4 , or Book of the Kings of 
Toemapel and Madjapahit, begins to furnish information. The 
Sung annals 5 also give some account of the island but it is not 

1 See Kern, Kaivi-studien Arjuna-vivdJia, 1. and u. 1871. Juynboll, Drie Boeken 
van het oudjavaansche Mahdbhdrata, 1893, and id. Wirdtaparwwa, 1912. This last is 
dated Saka 918 =996 A.D. 

a Or Jayabaya. 

8 See Rdmdyana. Oudjavaansche Heldendicht, edited Kern, 1900, and Wrtta 
Sancaya, edited and translated by the same, 1875. 

4 Composed in 1613 A.D. 6 Groeneveldt, p. 14. 


clear to what years their description refers. They imply, however, 
that there was an organized government and that commerce 
was flourishing. They also state that the inhabitants "pray to 
the gods and Buddha": that Java was at war with eastern 
Sumatra: that embassies were sent to China in 992 and 1109 
and that in 1129 the Emperor gave the ruler of Java (probably 
Djajabaja) the title of king. 

The Pararaton opens with the fall of Daha in 1222 which 
made Toemapel, known later as Singasari, the principal kingdom. 
Five of its kings are enumerated, of whom Vishnuvardhana was 
buried in the celebrated shrine of Tjandi Djago, where he was 
represented in the guise of Buddha. His successor Sri Rajasa- 
nagara was praised by the poet Prapantja 2 as a zealous Buddhist 
but was known by the posthumous name of Sivabuddha. He 
was the first to use the name of Singasari and perhaps founded 
a new city, but the kingdom of Toemapel came to an end in his 
reign for he was slain by Djaja Katong 2 , prince of Daha, who 
restored to that kingdom its previous primacy, but only for a 
short time, since it was soon supplanted by Madjapahit. The 
foundation of this state is connected with a Chinese invasion of 
Java, related at some length in the Yuan annals 3 , so that we 
are fortunate in possessing a double and fairly consistent account 
of what occurred. 

We learn from these sources that some time after Khubilai 
Khan had conquered China, he sent missions to neighbouring 
countries to demand tribute. The Javanese had generally 
accorded a satisfactory reception to Chinese missions, but on 
this occasion the king (apparently Djaja Katong) maltreated 
the envoy and sent him back with his face cut or tattooed. 
Khubilai could not brook this outrage and in 1292 despatched 
a punitive expedition. At that time Raden Vidjaja, the son- 
in-law of Kertanagara, had not submitted to Djaja Katong and 
held out at Madjapahit, a stronghold which he had founded 
near the river Brantas. He offered his services to the Chinese 
and after a two months campaign Daha was captured and 
Djaja Katong killed. Raden Vidjaja now found that he no longer 

1 In the work commonly called " Nagarakretagama " (ed. Brandes, Verhand. 
Bataav. Genoolschap. LIV. 1902), but it is stated that its real name is " De9awarn- 
nana." See Tijdschrift, LVI. 1914, p. 194. 

3 Or Jayakatong. 3 Groeneveldt, pp. 20-34. 


needed his Chinese allies. He treacherously massacred some 
and prepared to fight the rest. But the Mongol generals, seeing 
the difficulties of campaigning in an unknown country without 
guides, prudently returned to their master and reported that 
they had taken Daha and killed the insolent king. 

Madjapahit (or Wilwatikta) now became the premier state 
of Java, and had some permanency. Eleven sovereigns, in 
cluding three queens, are enumerated by the Pararaton until 
its collapse in 1468. We learn from the Ming annals and other 
Chinese documents 1 that it had considerable commercial 
relations with China and sent frequent missions: also that 
Palembang was a vassal of Java. But the general impression 
left by the Pararaton is that during the greater part of its 
existence Madjapahit was a distracted and troubled kingdom. 
In 1403, as we know from both Chinese and Javanese sources, 
there began a great war between the western and eastern 
kingdoms, that is between Madjapahit and Balambangan in the 
extreme east, and in the fifteenth century there was twice an 
interregnum. Art and literature, though not dead, declined and 
events were clearly tending towards a break-up or revolution. 
This appears to have been consummated in 1468, when the 
Pararaton simply says that King Pandansalas III left the 
Kraton, or royal residence. 

It is curious that the native traditions as to the date and 
circumstances in which Madjapahit fell should be so vague, but 
perhaps the end of Hindu rule in Java was less sudden and 
dramatic than we are inclined to think. Islam had been making 
gradual progress and its last opponents were kings only in title. 
The Chinese mention the presence of Arabs in the seventh 
century, and the geography called Ying-yai Sheng-lan (published 
in 1416), which mentions Grisse, Soerabaja and Madjapahit as 
the principal towns of Java, divides the inhabitants into three 
classes: (a) Mohammedans who have come from the west, "their 
dress and food is clean and proper"; (6) the Chinese, who are 
also cleanly and many of whom are Mohammedans; (c) the 
natives who are ugly and uncouth, devil-worshippers, filthy in 
food and habits. As the Chinese do not generally speak so 
severely of the hinduized Javanese it would appear that 
Hinduism lasted longest among the lower and more savage 

1 Groeneveldt, pp. 34-53. 


classes, and that the Moslims stood on a higher level. As in 
other countries, the Arabs attempted to spread Islam from the 
time of their first appearance. At first they confined their 
propaganda to their native wives and dependents. Later we 
hear of veritable apostles of Islam such as Malik Ibrahim, and 
Raden Rahmat, the ruler of a town called Ampel 1 which became 
the head quarter of Islam. The princes whose territory lay 
round Madjapahit were gradually converted and the extinction 
of the last Hindu kingdom became inevitable 2 . 

It is remarkable that the great island of Sumatra, which 
seems to lie in the way of anyone proceeding from India east 
wards and is close to the Malay peninsula, should in all ages 
have proved less accessible to invaders coming from the west 
than the more distant Java. Neither Hindus, Arabs nor 
Europeans have been able to establish their influence there in 
the same thorough manner. The cause is probably to be found 
in its unhealthy and impenetrable jungles, but even so its 
relative isolation remains singular. 

It does not appear that any prince ever claimed to be king 
of all Sumatra. For the Hindu period we have no indigenous 
literature and our scanty knowledge is derived from a few statues 
and inscriptions and from notices in Chinese writings. The 
latter do not refer to the island as a whole but to several states 
such as Indragiri near the Equator and Kandali (afterwards 
called San-bo-tsai, the Sabaza of the Arabs) near Palembang. 
The annals of the Liang dynasty say that the customs of 
Kandali were much the same as those of Camboja and appar 
ently we are to understand that the country was Buddhist, for 
one king visited the Emperor Wu-ti in a dream, and his son 
addressed a letter to His Majesty eulogizing his devotion to 
Buddhism. Kandali is said to have sent three envoys to China 
between 454 and 519. 

1 Near Soerabaja. It is said that he married a daughter of the king of Champa, 
and that the king of Madjapahit married her sister. For the connection between 
the royal families of Java and Champa at this period see Maspero in T oung Pao, 
1911, pp. 595 ff., and the references to Champa in Nagarakretagama, 15, 1, and 83, 4. 

2 See Raffles, chap, x, for Javanese traditions respecting the decline and fall of 


The Chinese pilgrim I-Ching 1 visited Sumatra twice, once 
for two months in 672 and subsequently for some years (about 
688-695). He tells us that in the islands of the Southern Sea, 
"which are more than ten countries," Buddhism flourishes, the 
school almost universally followed being the Mulasarvastivada, 
though the Sammitiyas and other schools have a few adherents. 
He calls the country where he sojourned and to which these state 
ments primarily refer, Bhoja or Sribhoja (Fo-shih or Shih-li-fo- 
shih), adding that its former name was Malay u. It is conjectured 
that Shih-li-fo-shih is the place later known as San-bo-tsai 2 and 
Chinese authors seem to consider that both this place and the 
earlier Kandali were roughly speaking identical with Palembang. 
I-Ching tells us that the king of Bhoja favoured Buddhism and 
that there were more than a thousand priests in the city. Gold 
was abundant and golden flowers were offered to the Buddha. 
There was communication by ship with both India and China. 
The Hinayana, he says, was the form of Buddhism adopted 
"except in Malayu, where there are a few who belong to the 
Mahayana." This is a surprising statement, but it is impossible 
to suppose that an expert like I-Ching can have been wrong 
about what he actually saw in Sribhoja. So far as his remarks 
apply to Java they must be based on hearsay and have less 
authority, but the sculptures of Boroboedoer appear to show 
the influence of Mulasarvastivadin literature. It must be 
remembered that this school, though nominally belonging to 
the Hinayana, came to be something very different from the 
Theravada of Ceylon. 

The Sung annals and subsequent Chinese writers know the 
same district (the modern Palembang) as San-bo-tsai (which may 
indicate either mere change of name or the rise of a new city) 
and say that it sent twenty-one envoys between 960 and 1178. 
The real object of these missions was to foster trade and there 
was evidently frequent intercourse between eastern Sumatra, 
Champa and China. Ultimately the Chinese seem to have 
thought that the entertainment of Sumatran diplomatists cost 
more than they were worth, for in 1178 the emperor ordered 
that they should not come to Court but present themselves in 

1 See Takakusu, A record of the Buddhist religion, especially pp. xl to xlvi. 

2 In another pronunciation the characters are read San-fo-chai. The meaning 
appears to be The Three Buddhas. 


the province of Fu-kien. The Annals state that Sanskrit writing 
was in use at San-bo-tsai and lead us to suppose that the 
country was Buddhist. They mention several kings whose 
names or titles seem to begin with the Sanskrit word Sri 1 . In 
1003 the envoys reported that a Buddhist temple had been 
erected in honour of the emperor and they received a present 
of bells for it. Another envoy asked for dresses to be worn by 
Buddhist monks. The Ming annals also record missions from 
San-bo-tsai up to 1376, shortly after which the region was 
conquered by Java and the town decayed 2 . In the fourteenth 
century Chinese writers begin to speak of Su-men-ta-la or 
Sumatra by which is meant not the whole island but a state in 
the northern part of it called Samudra and corresponding to 
Atjeh 3 . It had relations with China and the manners and 
customs of its inhabitants are said to be the same as in Malacca, 
which probably means that they were Moslims. 

Little light is thrown on the history of Sumatra by indi 
genous or Javanese monuments. Those found testify, as might 
be expected, to the existence here and there of both Brahman- 
ism and Buddhism. In 1343 a Sumatran prince named Aditya- 
varman, who was apparently a vassal of Madjapahit, erected an 
image of Manjusri at Tjandi Djago and in 1375 one of 


The Liang and T ang annals both speak of a country called 
Po-li, described as an island lying to the south-east of Canton. 
Groeneveldt identified it with Sumatra, but the account of its 
position suggests that it is rather to be found in Borneo, parts 
of which were undoubtedly known to the Chinese as Po-lo and 
Pu-ni 4 . The Liang annals state that Po-li sent an embassy to 
the Emperor Wu-ti in 518 bearing a letter which described the 

1 E.g. Si-li-ma-ha-la-sha (=Srimaharaja) Si-li-tieli-hwa (perhaps = rideva). 

2 The conquest however was incomplete and about 1400 a Chinese adventurer 
ruled there some time. The name was changed to Ku-Kang, which is said to be 
still the Chinese name for Palembang. 

3 The Ming annals expressly state that the name was changed to Atjeh about 

4 For the identification of Po-li see Groeneveldt, p. 80, and Hose and McDougall, 
Pagan Tribes of Borneo, chap. n. It might be identified with Bali, but it is doubtful 
if Hindu civilization had spread to that island or even to east Java in the sixth 


country as devoted to Buddhism and frequented by students 
of the three vehicles. If the letter is an authentic document the 
statements in it may still be exaggerations, for the piety of 
Wu-ti was well known and it is clear that foreign princes who 
addressed him thought it prudent to represent themselves and 
their subjects as fervent Buddhists. But there certainly was a 
Hindu period in Borneo, of which some tradition remains among 
the natives 1 , although it ended earlier and left fewer permanent 
traces than in Java and elsewhere. 

The most important records of this period are three Sanskrit 
inscriptions found at Koetei on the east coast of Borneo 2 . They 
record the donations made to Brahmans by King Mulavarman, 
son of Asvavarman and grandson of Kundagga. They are not 
dated, but Kern considers for pala^ographical reasons that they 
are not later than the fifth century. Thus, since three genera 
tions are mentioned, it is probable that about 400 A.D. there 
were Hindu princes in Borneo. The inscriptions testify to the 
existence of Hinduism there rather than of Buddhism: in fact 
the statements in the Chinese annals are the only evidence for 
the latter. But it is most interesting to find that these annals 
give the family name of the king of Poli as Kaundinya 3 which 
no doubt corresponds to the Kundagga of the Koetei inscription. 
At least one if not two of the Hindu invaders of Camboja bore 
this name, and we can hardly be wrong in supposing that 
members of the same great family became princes in different 
parts of the Far East. One explanation of their presence in 
Borneo would be that they went thither from Camboja, but we 
have no record of expeditions from Camboja and if adventurers 
started thence it is not clear why they went to the east coast of 
Borneo. It would be less strange if Kaundinyas emigrating from 
Java reached both Camboja and Koetei. It is noticeable that 
in Java, Koetei, Champa and Camboja alike royal names end 
in van nan. 

1 See Hose and McDougall, I.e. p. 12. 

2 See Kern, "Over de Opschriften uit Koetei" in Verslagen Meded. Afd. Lett. 2 
R. xi. D. Another inscription apparently written in debased Indian characters 
but not yet deciphered has been found in Sanggau, south-west Borneo. 

3 Groeneveldt, p. 81. The characters may be read Kau-di-nya according to 
Julien s method. The reference is to Liang annals, book 54. 



The architectural monuments of Java are remarkable for 
their size, their number and their beauty. Geographically they 
fall into two chief groups, the central (Boroboedoer, Prambanan, 
Dieng plateau, etc.) in or near the kingdom of Mataram and 
the eastern (Tjandi Djago, Singasari, Panataran, etc.) lying not 
at the extremity of the island but chiefly to the south of 
Soerabaja. No relic of antiquity deserving to be called a monu 
ment has been found in western Java for the records left by 
Purnavarman (c. 400 A.D.) are merely rocks bearing inscriptions 
and two footprints, as a sign that the monarch s triumphal 
progress is compared to the three steps of Vishnu. 

The earliest dated (779 A.D.) monument in mid Java, Tjandi 
Kalasan, is Buddhist and lies in the plain of Prambanan. It is 
dedicated to Tara and is of a type common both in Java and 
Champa, namely a chapel surmounted by a tower. In connec 
tion with it was erected the neighbouring building called Tjandi 
Sari, a two-storied monastery for Mahay anist monks. Not far 
distant is Tjandi Sevu, which superficially resembles the 450 
Pagodas of Mandalay, for it consists of a central cruciform shrine 
surrounded by about 240 smaller separate chapels, every one of 
which, apparently, contained the statue of a Dhyani Buddha. 
Other Buddhist buildings in the same region are Tjandi Plaosan, 
and the beautiful chapel known as Tjandi Mendut in which are 
gigantic seated images of the Buddha, Manjusri and Avalokita. 
The face of the last named is perhaps the most exquisite piece 
of work ever wrought by the chisel of a Buddhist artist. 

It is not far from Mendut to Boroboedoer, which deserves 
to be included in any list of the wonders of the world. This 
celebrated stupa for in essence it is a highly ornamented stupa 
with galleries of sculpture rising one above the other on its 
sides has been often described and can be described intelligibly 
only at considerable length. I will therefore not attempt to 
detail or criticize its beauties but will merely state some points 
which are important for our purpose. 

It is generally agreed that it must have been built about 
850 A.D., but obviously the construction lasted a considerable 
time and there are indications that the architects altered their 
original plan. The unknown founder must have been a powerful 


and prosperous king for no one else could have commanded the 
necessary labour. The stupa shows no sign of Brahmanic 
influence. It is purely Buddhist and built for purposes of 
edification. The worshippers performed pradakshina by walking 
round the galleries, one after the other, and as they did so had 
an opportunity of inspecting some 2000 reliefs depicting the 
previous births of Sakyamuni, his life on earth and finally the 
mysteries of Mahayanist theology. As in Indian pilgrim cities, 
temple guides were probably ready to explain the pictures. 

The selection of reliefs is not due to the artists fancy but 
aims at illustrating certain works. Thus the scenes of the 
Buddha s life reproduce in stone the story of the Lalita Vistara 1 
and the Jataka pictures are based on the Divyavadana. It is 
interesting to find that both these works are connected with 
the school of the Mulasarvastivadins, which according to I-Ching 
was the form of Buddhism prevalent in the archipelago. In the 
third gallery the figure of Maitreya is prominent and often seems 
to be explaining something to a personage who accompanies him. 
As Maitreya is said to have revealed five important scriptures 
to Asariga, and as there is a tradition that the east of Asia was 
evangelized by the disciples of Asariga or Vasubandhu, it is 
possible that the delivery and progress of Maitreya s revelation 
is here depicted. The fourth gallery seems to deal with the five 
superhuman Buddhas 2 , their paradises and other supra-mundane 
matters, but the key to this series of sculptures has not yet been 
found. It is probable that the highest storey proved to be too 
heavy in its original form and that the central dagoba had to 
be reduced lest it should break the substructure. But it is not 
known what image or relic was preserved in this dagoba. Possibly 
it was dedicated to Vairocana who was regarded as the Supreme 
Being and All-God by some Javanese Buddhists 3 . 

The creed here depicted in stone seems to be a form of 

1 See Pleyte, Die Buddhalegende in den Sculpturen von Borobudur. But he 
points out that the version of the Lalita Vistara followed by the artist is not quite 
the same as the one that we possess. 

2 Amitabha, Amoghasiddhi, Ratnasambhava, Akshobhya, Vairocana, some 
times called Dhyani Buddhas, but it does not seem that this name was in common 
use in Java or elsewhere. The Kamahayanikan calls them the Five Tathagatas. 

3 So in the Kunjarakarna, for which see below. The Kamahayanikan teaches 
an elaborate system of Buddha emanations but for purposes of worship it is not 
quite clear which should be adored as the highest. 


Mahayanism. Sakyamuni is abundantly honoured but there is 
no representation of his death. This may be because the Lalita 
Vistara treats only of his early career, but still the omission is 
noteworthy. In spite of the importance of Sakyamuni, a con 
siderable if mysterious part is played by the five superhuman 
Buddhas, and several Bodhisattvas, especially Maitreya, Avalo- 
kita and Manjusri. In the celestial scenes we find numerous 
Bodhisattvas both male and female, yet the figures are hardly 
Tantric and there is no sign that any of the personages are 
Brahmanic deities. 

Yet the region was not wholly Buddhist. Not far from 
Boroboedoer and apparently of about the same age is the 
Sivaite temple of Banon, and the great temple group of Pram- 
banam is close to Kalasan and to the other Buddhist shrines 
mentioned above. It consists of eight temples of which four are 
dedicated to Brahma, Siva, Vishnu and Nandi respectively, the 
purpose of the others being uncertain. The largest and most 
decorated is that dedicated to Siva, containing four shrines in 
which are images of the god as Mahadeva and as Guru, of 
Ganesa and of Durga. The balustrade is ornamented with a 
series of reliefs illustrating the Ramayana. These temples, which 
appear to be entirely Brahmanic, approach in style the archi 
tecture of eastern Java and probably date from the tenth 
century, that is about a century later than the Buddhist 
monuments. But there is no tradition or other evidence of a 
religious revolution. 

The temples on the Dieng plateau are also purely Brahmanic 
and probably older, for though we have no record of their 
foundation, an inscribed stone dated 800 A.D. has been found 
in this district. The plateau which is 6500 feet high was 
approached by paved roads or flights of stairs on one of which 
about 4000 steps still remain. Originally there seem to have 
been about 40 buildings on the plateau but of these only eight 
now exist besides several stone foundations which supported 
wooden structures. The place may have been a temple city 
analogous to Girnar or Satrunjaya, but it appears to have been 
deserted in the thirteenth century, perhaps in consequence of 
volcanic activity. The Dieng temples are named after the heroes 
of the Mahabharata (Tjandi Ardjuno, Tjandi Bimo, etc.), but 
these appear to be late designations. They are rectangular tower- 


like shrines with porches and a single cellule within. Figures of 
Brahma, Siva and Vishnu have been discovered, as well as 
spouts to carry off the libation water. 

Before leaving mid Java I should perhaps mention the 
relatively modern (1435-1440 A.D.) temples of Suku. I have not 
seen these buildings, but they are said to be coarse in execution 
and to indicate that they were used by a debased sect of 
Vishnuites. Their interest lies in the extraordinary resemblance 
which they bear to the temples of Mexico and Yucatan, a 
resemblance "which no one can fail to observe, though no one 
has yet suggested any hypothesis to account for it 1 ." 

The best known and probably the most important monu 
ments of eastern Java are Panataran, Tjandi Djago and Tjandi 
Singasari 2 . 

The first is considered to date from about 1150 A.D. It is 
practically a three-storied pyramid with a flat top. The sides 
of the lowest storey are ornamented with a series of reliefs 
illustrating portions of the Ramayana, local legends and perhaps 
the exploits of Krishna, but this last point is doubtful 3 . This 
temple seems to indicate the same stage of belief as Prambanam. 
It shows no trace of Buddhism and though Siva was probably 
the principal deity, the scenes represented in its sculptures are 
chiefly Vishnuite. 

Tjandi Djago is in the province .of Pasoeroean. According 
to the Pararaton and the Nagarakretagama 4 , Vishnuvardhana, 
king of Toemapel, was buried there. As he died in 1272 or 1273 
A.D. and the temple was already in existence, we may infer that 
it dates from at least 1250. He was represented there in the 
form of Sugata (that is the Buddha) and at Waleri in the form 
of Siva. Here we have the custom known also in Champa and 
Camboja of a deceased king being represented by a statue with 
his own features but the attributes of his tutelary deity. It is 
strange that a king named after Vishnu should be portrayed in 
the guise of Siva and Buddha. But in spite of this impartiality, 
the cult practised at Tjandi Djago seems to have been not a 
mixture but Buddhism of a late Mahay anist type. It was 

1 Fergusson, History of Indian and Eastern Architecture, ed. 1910, vol. n. p. 439. 

2 See Archaeologisch Onderzoek op Java en Madura, I. "Tjandi Djago," 1904; 
II. "Tj. Singasari en Panataran," 1909. 

8 See Knebel in Tijds. voor Indische T., L. en Volkenkunde, 41, 1909, p. 27. 
4 See passages quoted in Archaeol. Onderzoek, I. pp. 96-97. 


doubtless held that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are identical 
with Brahmanic deities, but the fairly numerous pantheon 
discovered in or near the ruins consists of superhuman Buddhas 
and Bodhisattvas with their spouses 1 . 

In form Tjandi Djago has somewhat the appearance of a 
three-storied pyramid but the steps leading up to the top 
platform are at one end only and the shrine instead of standing 
in the centre of the platform is at the end opposite to the stairs. 
The figures in the reliefs are curiously square and clumsy and 
recall those of Central America. 

Tjandi Singasari, also in the province of Pasoeroean, is of a 
different form. It is erected on a single low platform and con 
sists of a plain rectangular building surmounted by five towers 
such as are also found in Cambojan temples. There is every 
reason to believe that it was erected in 1278A.D. in the reign 
of Kretanagara, the last king of Toemapel, and that it is the 
temple known as Siva-buddhalaya in which he was commemor 
ated under the name of Siva-buddha. An inscription found 
close by relates that in 1351 A. D. a shrine was erected on behalf 
of the royal family in memory of those who died with the king 2 . 

The Nagarakretagama represents this king as a devout 
Buddhist but his Very title Sivabuddha shows how completely 
Sivaism and Buddhism were fused in his religion. The same 
work mentions a temple in which the lower storey was dedicated 
to Siva and the upper to Akshobhya : it also leads us to suppose 
that the king was honoured as an incarnation of Akshobhya 
even during his life and was consecrated as a Jina under the 
name of Srijnanabajresvara 3 . The Singasari temple is less 
ornamented with reliefs than the others described but has 
furnished numerous statues of excellent workmanship which 
illustrate the fusion of the Buddhist and Sivaite pantheons. 
On the one side we have Prajnaparamita, Manjusri and Tara, 
on the other Ganesa, the Linga, Siva in various forms (Guru, 
Nandisvara, Mahakala, etc.), Durga and Brahma. Not only is 

1 Hayagriva however may be regarded as a Brahmanic god adopted by the 

2 See for reasons and references Archaeol. Onderzoek, 11. pp. 36-40. The principal 
members of the king s household probably committed suicide during the funeral 

3 Kern in Tijds. voor T., L. en Volkenkunde, Deel LIT. 1910, p. 107. Similarly in 
Burma Alompra was popularly regarded as a Bodhisattva. 


the Sivaite element predominant but the Buddhist figures are 
concerned less with the veneration of the Buddha than with 
accessory mythology. 

Javanese architecture and sculpture are no doubt derived 
from India, but the imported style, whatever it may have been, 
was modified by local influences and it seems impossible at 
present to determine whether its origin should be sought on the 
eastern or western side of India. The theory that the temples 
on the Dieng plateau are Chalukyan buildings appears to be 
abandoned but they and many others in Java show a striking 
resemblance to the shrines found in Champa. Javanese archi 
tecture is remarkable for the complete absence not only of 
radiating arches but of pillars, and consequently of large halls. 
This feature is no doubt due to the ever present danger of 
earthquakes. Many reliefs, particularly those of Panataran, 
show the influence of a style which is not Indian and may be 
termed, though not very correctly, Polynesian. The great merit 
of Javanese sculpture lies in the refinement and beauty of the 
faces. Among figures executed in India it would be hard to find 
anything equal in purity and delicacy to the Avalokita of 
Mendut, the Manjusri now in the Berlin Museum or the Prajfia- 
paramita now at Ley den. 


From the eleventh century until the end of the Hindu period 
Java can show a considerable body of literature, wliich is in 
part theological. It is unfortunate that no books dating from 
an earlier epoch should be extant. The sculptures of Prambanam 
and Boroboedoer clearly presuppose an acquaintance with the 
Ramayana, the Lalita Vistara and other Buddhist works but, 
as in Camboja, this literature was probably known only in the 
original Sanskrit and only to the learned. But it is not unlikely 
that the Javanese adaptations of the Indian epics which have 
come down to us were preceded by earlier attempts which have 

The old literary language of Java is commonly known as 
Basa Kawi or Kawi, that is the language of poetry 1 . It is 

1 Sanskrit Kavi, a poet. See for Javanese literature Van der Tuuk in J.R.A.S. 
xui. 1881, p. 42, and Hinloopen Labberton, ib. 1913, p. 1. Also the article "Lit- 
teratuur" in the Encyc. van Nederlandach- Indie, and many notices in the writings of 
Kern and Veth. 


however simply the predecessor of modern Javanese and many 
authorities prefer to describe the language of the island as Old 
Javanese before the Madjapahit period, Middle- Javanese dur 
ing that period and New Javanese after the fall of Madjapahit. 
The greater part of this literature consists of free versions of 
Sanskrit works or of a substratum in Sanskrit accompanied by 
a Javanese explanation. Only a few Javanese works are original, 
that is to say not obviously inspired by an Indian prototype, 
but on the other hand nearly all of them handle their materials 
with freedom and adapt rather than translate what they borrow. 

One of the earliest works preserved appears to be the Tantoe 
Panggelaran, a treatise on cosmology in which Indian and native 
ideas are combined. It is supposed to have been written about 
1000 A.D. Before the foundation of Madjapahit Javanese litera 
ture flourished especially in the reigns of Erlangga and Djajabaja, 
that is in the eleventh and twelfth centuries respectively. About 
the time of Erlangga were produced the old prose version of 
the Mahabharata, in which certain episodes of that poem are 
rendered with great freedom and the poem called Arjunavivaha, 
or the marriage of Arjuna. 

The Bharatayuddha 1 , which states that it was composed by 
Mpoe Sedah in 1157 by order of Djajabaja, prince of Kediri, is, 
even more than the prose version mentioned above, a free 
rendering of parts of the Mahabharata. It is perhaps based on 
an older translation preserved in Bali 2 . The Kawi Ramayana 
was in the opinion of Kern composed about 1200 A.D. It follows 
in essentials the story of the Ramayana, but it was apparently 
composed by a poet unacquainted with Sanskrit who drew his 
knowledge from some native source now unknown 3 . He appears 
to have been a Sivaite. To the eleventh century are also referred 
the Smaradahana and the treatise on prosody called Vritta- 
sancaya. All this literature is based upon classical Sanskrit 
models and is not distinctly Buddhist although the prose 
version of the Mahabharata states that it was written for 
Brahmans, Sivaites and Buddhists 4 . Many other translations 

1 Edited by Gunning, 1903. 

2 A fragment of it is printed in Notulen. Batav. Gen. LII. 1914, 108. 

8 Episodes of the Indian epics have also been used as the subjects of Javanese 
dramas. See Juynboll, Indonesische en achterindische tooneelvoorstellingen uit het 
Rdmdyana, and Hinloopen Labberton, Pepakem Sapanti Sakoentala, 1912. 

4 Juynboll, Drie Boeken van het Oudjavaansche MaMbhdrata, p. 28. 

E. in. 12 


or adaptations of Sanskrit work are mentioned, such as the 
Nitisastra, the Sarasamuccaya, the Tantri (in several editions), 
a prose translation of the Brahmandapurana, together with 
grammars and dictionaries. The absence of dates makes it 
difficult to use these works for the history of Javanese thought. 
But it seems clear that during the Madjapahit epoch, or perhaps 
even before it, a strong current of Buddhism permeated Javanese 
literature, somewhat in contrast with the tone of the works 
hitherto cited. Brandes states that the Sutasoma, Vighnotsava, 
Kunjarakarna, Sang Hyang Kamahayanikan, and Buddha- 
pamutus are purely Buddhist works and that the Tjantakaparva, 
Arjunavijaya, Nagarakretagama, Wariga and Bubukshah show 
striking traces of Buddhism 1 . Some of these works are inacces 
sible to me but two of them deserve examination, the Sang 
Hyang Kamahayanikan 2 and the story of Kunjarakarna 3 . The 
first is tentatively assigned to the Madjapahit epoch or earlier, 
the second with the same caution to the eleventh century. 
I do not presume to criticize these dates which depend partly on 
linguistic considerations. The Kamahayanikan is a treatise (or 
perhaps extracts from treatises) on Mahayanism as understood in 
Java and presumably on the normal form of Mahayanism. The 
other work is an edifying legend including an exposition of the 
faith by no one less than the Buddha Vairocana. In essentials 
it agrees with the Kamahayanikan but in details it shows either 
sectarian influence or the idiosyncrasies of the author. 

The Kamahayanikan consists of Sanskrit verses explained 
by a commentary in old Javanese and is partly in the form of 
questions and answers. The only authority whom it cites is 
Dignaga. It professes to teach the Mahayana and Mantrayana, 
which is apparently a misspelling for Mantrayana. The emphasis 
laid on Bajra (that is vajra or dorje), ghanta, mudra, mandala, 
mystic syllables, and Devis marks it as an offshoot of Tantrism 
and it offers many parallels to Nepalese literature. On the other 
hand it is curious that it uses the form Nibana not Nirvana 4 . Its 

1 Archaeol. OnderzoeJc, I. p. 98. This statement is abundantly confirmed by 
Krom s index of the proper names in the Nagarakretagama in Tijdschrift, LVI. 1914, 
pp. 495 ff. 

2 Edited with transl. and notes by J. Kat, s Gravenhage, 1910. 

8 Edited with transl. by H. Kern in Verh. der K. Akademie van Wetenschappen 
te Amsterdam. Afd. Lett. N.R. 111. 3. 1901. 

4 But this probably represents nizbana and is not a Pali form. Cf. Bajra, Bayu 
for Vajra, Vayu. 


object is to teach a neophyte, who has to receive initiation, how 
to become a Buddha 1 . In the second part the pupil is addressed 
as Jinaputra, that is son of the Buddha or one of the household 
of faith. He is to be moderate but not ascetic in food and 
clothing : he is not to cleave to the Puranas and Tantras but to 
practise the Paramitas. These are defined first as six 2 and then 
four others are added 3 . Under Prajnaparamita is given a some 
what obscure account of the doctrine of Sunyata. Then follows 
the exposition of Paramaguhya (the highest secret) and Maha- 
guhya (the great secret). The latter is defined as being Yoga, the 
bhavanas, the four noble truths and the ten paramitas. The 
former explains the embodiment of Bhatara Visesha, that is to 
say the way in which Buddhas, gods and the world of pheno 
mena are evolved from a primordial principle, called Advaya 
and apparently equivalent to the Nepalese Adibuddha 4 . Advaya 
is the father of Buddha and Advayajnana, also called Bharali 
Prajnaparamita, is his mother, but the Buddha principle at this 
stage is also called Divarupa. In the next stage this Divarupa 
takes form as Sakyamuni, who is regarded as a superhuman 
form of Buddhahood rather than as a human teacher, for he 
produces from his right and left side respectively Lokesvara and 
Bajrapani. These beings produce, the first Akshobhya and 
Ratnasambhava, the second Amitabha and Amoghasiddhi, but 
Vairocana springs directly from the face of Sakyamuni. The five 
superhuman Buddhas are thus accounted for. From Vairocana 
spring Isvara (Siva), Brahma, and Vishnu: from them the 
elements, the human body and the whole world. A considerable 
part of the treatise is occupied with connecting these various 
emanations of the Advaya with mystic syllables and in showing 
how the five Buddhas correspond to the different skandas, 
elements, senses, etc. Finally we are told that there are five 
Devis, or female counterparts corresponding in the same order 
to the Buddhas named above and called Locana, Mamaki, 
Pandaravasmi, Tara and Dhatvisvari. But it is declared that 

1 Adyabhishiktayushmanta, p. 30. Praptam buddhatvam bhavadbhir, ib. and 
Esha marga varah sriraan mahayana mahodayah Yena yuyam gamishyanto bhavish- 
yatha Tathagatah. 

2 Dana, Sila, kshanti, virya, dhyana, prajna. 

3 Maitri, karuna, mudita, upeksha. 

4 The Karandavyuha teaches a somewhat similar doctrine of creative emana 
tions. Avalokita, Brahma, Siva, Vishnu and others all are evolved from the original 
Buddha spirit and proceed to evolve the world. 


the first and last of these are the same and therefore there are 
really only four Devis. 

The legend of Kunjarakarna relates how a devout Yaksha 
of that name went to Bodhicitta 1 and asked of Vairocana 
instruction in the holy law and more especially as to the mysteries 
of rebirth. Vairocana did not refuse but bade his would-be pupil 
first visit the realms of Yama, god of the dead. Kunjarakarna 
did so, saw the punishments of the underworld, including the 
torments prepared for a friend of his, whom he was able to warn 
on his return. Yama gave him some explanations respecting 
the alternation of life and death and he was subsequently 
privileged to receive a brief but more general exposition of 
doctrine from Vairocana himself. 

This doctrine is essentially a variety of Indian pantheism 
but peculiar in its terminology inasmuch as Vairocana, like 
Krishna in the Bhagavadgita, proclaims himself to be the All- 
God and not merely the chief of the five Buddhas. He quotes 
with approval the saying "you are I: I am you" and affirms 
the identity of Buddhism and Sivaism. Among the monks 2 
there are no muktas (i.e. none who have attained liberation) 
because they all consider as two what is really one. "The 
Buddhists say, we are Bauddhas, for the Lord Buddha is our 
highest deity : we are not the same as the Sivaites, for the Lord 
Siva is for them the highest deity." The Sivaites are represented 
as saying that the five Kusikas are a development or incarna 
tions of the five Buddhas. "Well, my son" is the conclusion, 
"These are all one: we are Siva, we are Buddha." 

In this curious exposition the author seems to imply that 
his doctrine is different from that of ordinary Buddhists, and to 
reprimand them more decidedly than Sivaites. He several times 
uses the phrase Namo Bhatdra, namah tSivdya (Hail, Lord : hail 
to Siva) yet he can hardly be said to favour the Sivaites on the 
whole, for his All-God is Vairocana who once (but only once) 
receives the title of Buddha. The doctrine attributed to the 
Sivaites that the five Kusikas are identical with the superhuman 
Buddhas remains obscure 3 . These five personages are said to be 
often mentioned in old Javanese literature but to be variously 

1 The use of this word, as a name for the residence of Vairocana, seems to be 
peculiar to our author. 

2 This term may include 6ivaite ascetics as well as Buddhist monks. 

3 See further discussion in Kern s edition, p. 16. 


enumerated 1 . They are identified with the five Indras, but 
these again are said to be the five senses (indriyas). Hence 
we can find a parallel to this doctrine in the teaching of the 
Kamahayanikan that the five Buddhas correspond to the five 

Two other special theses are enounced in the story of 
Kunjarakarna. The first is Vairocana s analysis of a human 
being, which makes it consist of five Atmans or souls, called 
respectively Atman, Cetanatman, Paratman, Niratman and 
Antaratman, which somehow correspond to the five elements, 
five senses and five Skandhas. The singular list suggests that 
the author was imperfectly acquainted with the meaning of the 
Sanskrit words employed and the whole terminology is strange 
in a Buddhist writer. Still in the later Upanishads 2 the epithet 
pancatmaka is applied to the human body, especially in the 
Garbha Upanishad which, like the passage here under considera 
tion, gives a psychophysiological explanation of the develop 
ment of an embryo into a human being. 

The second thesis is put in the mouth of Yama. He states 
that when a being has finished his term in purgatory he returns 
to life in this world first as a worm or insect, then successively 
as a higher animal and a human being, first diseased or maimed 
and finally perfect. No parallel has yet been quoted to this 
account of metempsychosis. 

Thus the Kunjarakarna contains peculiar views which are 
probably sectarian or individual. On the other hand their 
apparent singularity may be due to our small knowledge of old 
Javanese literature. Though other writings are not known to 
extol Vairocana as being Siva and Buddha in one, yet they have 
no scruple in identifying Buddhist and Brahmanic deities or 
connecting them by some system of emanations, as we have 
already seen in the Kamahayanikan. Such an identity is still 
more definitely proclaimed in the old Javanese version of the 
Sutasoma Jataka 3 . It is called Purushada-Santa and was 

1 A8 are the Panchpirs in modern India. 

2 Garbha. Up. 1 and 3, especially the phrase asmin pancatmake sarire. Pinda 
Up. 2. Bhinne pancatmake dehe. Maha Nar. Up. 23. Sa va esha purushah pan- 
cadha pancatma. 

8 See Kern, "Over de Vermenging van Civaisme en Buddhisme op Java" in 
Vers. en Meded. der Kan. Akad. van Wet. Afd. Lett. 3 R. 5 Deel, 1888. 

For the Sutasomajataka see Speyer s translation of the Jatakamala, pp. 291-313, 
with his notes and references. It is No. 537 in the Pali Collection of Jatakas. 


composed by Tantular who lived at Madjapahit in the reign of 
Rajasanagara (1350-1389 A.D.). In the Indian original Sutasoma 
is one of the previous births of Gotama. But the Javanese 
writer describes him as an Avatara of the Buddha who is 
Brahma, Vishnu and Isvara, and he states that "The Lord 
Buddha is not different from Siva the king of the gods.... They 
are distinct and they are one. In the Law is no dualism." The 
superhuman Buddhas are identified with various Hindu gods 
and also with the five senses. Thus Amitabha is Mahadeva and 
Amoghasiddhi is Vishnu. This is only a slight variation of the 
teaching in the Kamahayanikan. There Brahmanic deities 
emanate from Sakyamuni through various Bodhisattvas and 
Buddhas: here the Buddha spirit is regarded as equivalent to 
the Hindu Trimurti and the various aspects of this spirit can 
be described in either Brahmanic or Buddhistic terminology 
though in reality all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and gods are one. 
But like the other authors quoted, Tantular appears to lean to 
the Buddhist side of these equations, especially for didactic 
purposes. For instance he says that meditation should be 
guided "by Lokesvara s word and Sakyamuni s spirit." 

Thus it will be seen that if we take Javanese epigraphy, 
monuments and literature together with Chinese notices, they 
to some extent confirm one another and enable us to form an 
outline picture, though with many gaps, of the history of 
thought and religion in the island. Fa-Hsien tells us that in 
418A.D. Brahmanism flourished (as is testified by the inscrip 
tions of Purnavarman) but that the Buddhists were not worth 
mentioning. Immediately afterwards, probably in 423, Guna- 
varman is said to have converted She-po, if that be Java, to 
Buddhism, and as he came from Kashmir he was probably a 
Sarvastivadin. Other monks are mentioned as having visited 
the southern seas 1 . About 690 I-Ching says that Buddhism of 
the Mulasarvastivadin school was flourishing in Sumatra, which 
he visited, and in the other islands of the Archipelago. The 
remarkable series of Buddhist monuments in mid Java ex- 

1 See Nanjio Cat. Nos. 137, 138. 


tending from about 779 to 900 A.D. confirms his statement. But 
two questions arise. Firstly, is there any explanation of this 
sudden efflorescence of Buddhism in the Archipelago, and next, 
what was its doctrinal character? If, as Taranatha says, the 
disciples of Vasubandhu evangelized the countries of the East, 
their influence might well have been productive about the time 
of I-Ching s visit. But in any case during the sixth and seventh 
centuries religious travellers must have been continually 
journeying between India and China, in both directions, and 
some of them must have landed in the Archipelago. At the 
beginning of the sixth century Buddhism was not yet decadent 
in India and was all the fashion in China. It is not therefore 
surprising if it was planted in the islands lying on the route. 
It may be, as indicated above, that some specially powerful 
body of Hindus coming from the region of Gujarat and professing 
Buddhism founded in Java a new state. 

As to the character of this early Javanese Buddhism we have 
the testimony of I-Ching that it was of the Mulasarvastivadin 
school and Hinayanist. He wrote of what he had seen in 
Sumatra but of what he knew only by hearsay in Java and his 
statement offers some difficulties. Probably Hinayanism was 
introduced by Gunavarman but was superseded by other 
teachings which were imported from time to time after they had 
won for themselves a position in India. For the temple of 
Kalasan (A.D. 779) is dedicated to Tara and the inscription 
found there speaks of the Mahay ana with veneration. The later 
Buddhism of Java has literary records which, so far as I know, 
are unreservedly Mahay anist but probably the sculptures of 
Boroboedoer are the most definite expression which we shall 
ever have of its earlier phases. Since they contain images of the 
five superhuman Buddhas and of numerous Bodhisattvas, they 
can hardly be called anything but Mahayanist. But on the 
other hand the personality of Sakyamuni is emphasized ; his life 
and previous births are pictured in a long series of sculptures 
and Maitreya is duly honoured. Similar collections of pictures 
and images may be seen in Burma which differ doctrinally from 
those in Java chiefly by substituting the four human Buddhas 1 
and Maitreya for the superhuman Buddhas. But Mahayanist 
teaching declares that these human Buddhas are reflexes of 

1 Gotama, Kassapa, Konagamana and Kakusandha. 


counterparts of the superhuman Buddhas so that the difference 
is not great. 

Mahay anist Buddhism in Camboja and at a later period in 
Java itself was inextricably combined with Hinduism, Buddha 
being either directly identified with Siva or regarded as the 
primordial spirit from which Siva and all gods spring. But the 
sculptures of Boroboedoer do not indicate that the artists knew 
of any such amalgamation nor have inscriptions been found 
there, as in Camboja, which explain this compound theology. 
It would seem that Buddhism and Brahmanism co-existed in 
the same districts but had not yet begun to fuse doctrinally. 
The same condition seems to have prevailed in western India 
during the seventh and eighth centuries, for the Buddhist caves 
of Ellora, though situated in the neighbourhood of Brahmanic 
buildings and approximating to them in style, contain sculptures 
which indicate a purely Buddhist cultus and not a mixed 

Our meagre knowledge of Javanese history makes it difficult 
to estimate the spheres and relative strength of the two religions. 
In the plains the Buddhist monuments are more numerous and 
also more ancient and we might suppose that the temples of 
Prambanan indicate the beginning of some change in belief. 
But the temples on the Dieng plateau seem to be of about the 
same age as the oldest Buddhist monuments. Thus nothing 
refutes the supposition that Brahmanism existed in Java from 
the time of the first Hindu colonists and that Buddhism was 
introduced after 400 A.D. It may be that Boroboedoer and the 
Dieng plateau represent the religious centres of two different 
kingdoms. But this supposition is not necessary for in India, 
whence the Javanese received their ideas, groups of temples are 
found of the same age but belonging to different sects. Thus in 
the Khajraho group 1 some shrines are Jain and of the rest some 
are dedicated to Siva and some to Vishnu. 

The earliest records of Javanese Brahmanism, the inscrip 
tions of Purnavarman, are Vishnuite but the Brahmanism which 
prevailed in the eighth and ninth centuries was in the main 
Sivaite, though not of a strongly sectarian type. Brahma, 
Vishnu and Siva were all worshipped both at Prambanan and 
on the Dieng but Siva together with Ganesa, Durga, and Nandi 

1 About 950-1050 A.D. Fergusson, Hist, of Indian Architecture, n. p. 141. 


is evidently the chief deity. An image of Siva in the form of 
Bhatara Guru or Mahaguru is installed in one of the shrines at 
Prambanan. This deity is characteristic of Javanese Hinduism 
and apparently peculiar to it. He is represented as an elderly 
bearded man wearing a richly ornamented costume. There is 
something in the pose and drapery which recalls Chinese art 
and I think the figure is due to Chinese influence, for at the 
present day many of the images found in the temples of Bali 
are clearly imitated from Chinese models (or perhaps made by 
Chinese artists) and this may have happened in earlier times. 
The Chinese annals record several instances of religious objects 
being presented by the Emperors to Javanese princes. Though 
Bhatara Guru is only an aspect of Siva he is a sufficiently distinct 
personality to have a shrine of his own like Ganesa and Durga, 
in temples where the principal image of Siva is of another kind. 
The same type of Brahmanism lasted at least until the 
erection of Panataran (c. 1150). The temple appears to have 
been dedicated to Siva but like Prambanan it is ornamented 
with scenes from the Ramayana and from Vishnuite Puranas 1 . 
The literature which can be definitely assigned to the reigns of 
Djajabaja and Erlangga is Brahmanic in tone but both literature 
and monuments indicate that somewhat later there was a re 
vival of Buddhism. Something similar appears to have happened 
in other countries. In Camboja the inscriptions of Jayavarman 
VII (c. 1185 A.D.) are more definitely Buddhist than those of 
his predecessors and in 1296 Chou Ta-kuan regarded the country 
as mainly Buddhist. Parakrama Bahu of Ceylon (1153-1186) 
was zealous for the faith and so were several kings of Siam. I am 
inclined to think that this movement was a consequence of the 
flourishing condition of Buddhism at Pagan in Burma from 
1050 to 1250. Pagan certainly stimulated religion in both Siam 
and Ceylon and Siam reacted strongly on Camboja 2 . It is true 
that the later Buddhism of Java was by no means of the 
Siamese type, but probably the idea was current that the great 
kings of the world were pious Buddhists and consequently in 

1 Sec Knebel, "Recherches preparatoires concernant Krishna et lea bas reliefs 
des temples de Java" in Tijdschrift, LI. 1909, pp. 97-174. 

2 In Camboja the result seems to have been double. Pali Buddhism entered 
from Siam and ultimately conquered all other forms of religion, but for some time 
Mahay anist Buddhism, which was older in Camboja, revived and received Court 


most countries the local form of Buddhism, whatever it was, 
began to be held in esteem. Java had constant communication 
with Camboja and Champa and a king of Madjapahit married 
a princess of the latter country. It is also possible that a direct 
stimulus may have been received from India, for the statement 
of Taranatha 1 that when Bihar was sacked by the Moham 
medans the Buddhist teachers fled to other regions and that 
some of them went to Camboja is not improbable. 

But though the prestige of Buddhism increased in the 
thirteenth century, no rupture with Brahmanism took place and 
Pali Buddhism does not appear to have entered Java. The unity 
of the two religions is proclaimed: Buddha and Siva are one. 
But the Kamahayanikan while admitting the Trimurti makes 
it a derivative, and not even a primary derivative, of the 
original Buddha spirit. It has been stated that the religion of 
Java in the Madjapahit epoch was Sivaism with a little Buddhism 
thrown in, on the understanding that it was merely another 
method of formulating the same doctrine. It is very likely that 
the bulk of the population worshipped Hindu deities, for they 
are the gods of this world and dispense its good things. Yet the 
natives still speak of the old religion as Buddhagama; the old 
times are "Buddha times" and even the flights of stairs leading 
up to the Dieng plateau are called Buddha steps. This would 
hardly be so if in the Madjapahit epoch Buddha had not seemed 
to be the most striking figure in the non-Mohammedan religion. 
Also, the majority of religious works which have survived from 
this period are Buddhist. It is true that we have the Ramayana, 
the Bharata Yuddha and many other specimens of Brahmanic 
literature. But these, especially in their Javanese dress, are 
belles lettres rather than theology, whereas Kamahayanikan and 
Kunjarakarna are dogmatic treatises. Hence it would appear 
that the religious life of Madjapahit was rooted in Buddhism, 
but a most tolerant Buddhism which had no desire to repudiate 

I have already briefly analysed the Sang Hyang Kama 
hayanikan which seems to be the most authoritative exposition 
of this creed. The learned editor has collected many parallels 
from Tibetan and Nepalese works and similar parallels between 
Javanese and Tibetan iconography have been indicated by 

1 Chap. 37. 


Pleyte 1 and others. The explanation must be that the late forms 
of Buddhist art and doctrine which flourished in Magadha spread 
to Tibet and Nepal but were also introduced into Java. The 
Kamahayanikan appears to be a paraphrase of a Sanskrit 
original, perhaps distorted and mutilated. This original has not 
been identified with any work known to exist in India but might 
well be a Mahayanist catechism composed there about the 
eleventh century. The terminology of the treatise is peculiar, 
particularly in calling the ultimate principle Advaya and the 
more personal manifestation of it Divarupa. The former term 
may be paralleled in Hemacandra and the Amarakosha, which 
give respectively as synonyms for Buddha, advaya (in whom is 
no duality) and advayavadin (who preaches no duality), but 
Divarupa has not been found in any other work 2 . It is also 
remarkable that the Kamahayanikan does not teach the 
doctrine of the three bodies of Buddha 3 . It clearly states 4 that 
the Divarupa is identical with the highest being worshipped by 
various sects: with Paramasunya, Paramasiva, the Purusha of 
the followers of Kapila, the Nirguna of the Vishnuites, etc. 
Many names of sects and doctrines are mentioned which remain 
obscure, but the desire to represent them all as essentially 
identical is obvious. 

The Kamahayanikan recognizes the theoretical identity of 
the highest principles in Buddhism and Vishnuism 5 but it does 
not appear that Vishnu-Buddha was ever a popular conception 
like Siva-Buddha or that the compound deity called Siva- 
Vishnu, Hari-Hara, Sarikara-Narayana, etc., so well known in 
Camboja, enjoyed much honour in Java.. Vishnu is relegated 
to a distinctly secondary position and the Javanese version of 
the Mahabharata is more distinctly Sivaite than the Sanskrit 
text. Still he has a shrine at Prambanan, the story of the 
Bamayana is depicted there and at Panataran, and various 

1 "Bijdrage totdeKennis vanhetMahayanaopJava"inyd. totdeTaal Land en 
Volkenkunde van Nederlandsch-Indie, 1901 and 1902. 

a This use of advaya and advayavadin strengthens the suspicion that the 
origins of the Advaita philosophy are to be sought in Buddhism. 

* It uses the word trikaya but expressly defines it as meaning Kaya, vak and 

4 In a passage which is not translated from the Sanskrit and may therefore 
reflect the religious condition of Java. 

8 So too in the Sutasoma Jataka Amoghasiddhi is said to be Vishnu. 


unedited manuscripts contain allusions to his worship, more 
especially to his incarnation as Narasimha and to the Garuda 
on which he rides 1 . 


At present nearly all the inhabitants of Java profess Islam 
although the religion of a few tribes, such as the Tenggarese, is 
still a mixture of Hinduism with indigenous beliefs. But even 
among nominal Moslims some traces of the older creed survive. 
On festival days such monuments as Boroboedoer and Pram- 
banan are frequented by crowds who, if they offer no worship, 
at least take pleasure in examining the ancient statues. Some 
of these however receive more definite honours : they are painted 
red and modest offerings of flowers and fruit are laid before them. 
Yet the respect shown to particular images seems due not to 
old tradition but to modern and wrongheaded interpretations 
of their meaning. Thus at Boroboedoer the relief which represents 
the good tortoise saving a shipwrecked crew receives offerings 
from women because the small figures on the tortoise s back are 
supposed to be children. The minor forms of Indian mythology 
still flourish. All classes believe in the existence of raksasas, 
boetas (bhutas) and widadaris (vidyadharis), who are regarded 
as spirits similar to the Jinns of the Arabs. Lakshmi survives 
in the female genius believed even by rigid Mohammedans to 
preside over the cultivation of rice and the somewhat disreput 
able sect known as Santri Birahis are said to adore devas and 
the forces of nature 2 . Less obvious, but more important as more 
deeply affecting the national character, is the tendency towards 
mysticism and asceticism! What is known as ngelmoe 3 plays 
a considerable part in the religious life of the modern Javanese. 
The word is simply the Arabic ilm (or knowledge) used in the 
sense of secret science. It sometimes signifies mere magic but 
the higher forms of it, such as the ngelmoe peling, are said to 
teach that the contemplative life is the way to the knowledge 
of God and the attainment of supernatural powers. With such 

1 See Juynboll in Bijdragen tot de Taal Land en Volkenkundc van Ned.-Indie, 
1908, pp. 412-420. 

2 Veth, Java, vol. iv. p. 154. The whole chapter contains much information 
about the Hindu elements in modern Javanese religion. 

3 See Veth, I.e. and ngelmoe in Encycl. van Nederlandsch-Indie. 


ngelmoe is often connected a belief in metempsychosis, in the 
illusory nature of the world, and in the efficacy of regulating 
the breath. Asceticism is still known under the name of tapa 
and it is said that there are many recluses who live on alms 
and spend their time in meditation. The affinity of all this to 
Indian religion is obvious, although the Javanese have no idea 
that it is in any way incompatible with orthodox Islam. 

Indian religion, which in Java is represented merely by the 
influence of the past on the present, is not dead in Bali 1 where, 
though much mixed with aboriginal superstitions, it is still a 
distinct and national faith, able to hold its own against Moham 
medanism and Christianity 2 . 

The island of Bali is divided from the east coast of Java only 
by a narrow strait but the inhabitants possess certain characters 
of their own. They are more robust in build, their language is dis 
tinct from Javanese though belonging to the same group, and even 
the alphabet presents idiosyncrasies. Their laws, social institu 
tions, customs and calendar show many peculiarities, explicable 
on the supposition that they have preserved the ancient usages 
of pre-Mohammedan Java. At present the population is divided 
hi to the Bali-Agas or aborigines and the Wong Madjapahit who 
profess to have immigrated from that kingdom. The Chinese 
references 3 to Bali seem uncertain but, if accepted, indicate that 
it was known in the middle ages as a religious centre. It was 
probably a colony and dependency of Madjapahit and when 
Madjapahit fell it became a refuge for those who were not willing 
to accept Islam. 

Caste is still a social institution in Bali, five classes being 
recognized, namely Brahmans, Kshatriyas (Satriyas), Vaisyas 
(Visias), Sudras and Farias. These distinctions are rigidly 
observed and though intermarriage (which in former times was 
often punished with death) is now permitted, the offspring are 
not recognized as belonging to the caste of the superior parent. 
The bodies of the dead are burned and Sati, which was formerly 
frequent, is believed still to take place in noble families. Pork 

1 Also to some extent in Lombok. The Balinese were formerly the ruling class 
in this island and are still found there in considerable numbers. 

2 It has even been suggested that hinduized Malays carried some faint traces of 
Indian religion to Madagascar. See T oung Poo 1906, p. 93, where Zanahari is 
explained as Yang ( =God in Malay) Hari. 

8 Groeneveldt, pp. 19, 58, 59. 


is the only meat used and, as in other Hindu countries, oxen 
are never slaughtered. 

An idea of the Balinese religion may perhaps be given most 
easily by describing some of the temples. These are very abund 
ant : in the neighbourhood of Boeleling (the capital) alone I have 
seen more than ten of considerable size. As buildings they are 
not ancient, for the stone used is soft and does not last much 
more than fifty years. But when the edifices are rebuilt the 
ancient shape is preserved and what we see in Bali to-day 
probably represents the style of the middle ages. The temples 
consist of two or more courts surrounded by high walls. Worship 
is performed in the open air : there are various pyramids, seats, 
and small shrines like dovecots but no halls or rooms. The gates 
are ornamented with the heads of monsters, especially lions 
with large ears and winglike expansions at the side. The outer 
most gate has a characteristic shape. It somewhat resembles an 
Indian gopuram divided into two parts by a sharp, clean cut in 
the middle and tradition quotes in explanation the story of a 
king who was refused entrance to heaven but cleft a passage 
through the portal with his sword. 

In the outer court stand various sheds and hollow wooden 
cylinders which when struck give a sound like bells. Another 
ornamented doorway leads to the second court where are found 
some or all of the following objects : (a) Sacred trees, especially 
Ficus elastica. (b) Sheds with seats for human beings. It is said 
that on certain occasions these are used by mediums who be 
come inspired by the gods and then give oracles, (c) Seats for 
the gods, generally under sheds. They are of various kinds. 
There is usually one conspicuous chair with an ornamental back 
and a scroll hanging behind it which bears some such inscription 
as "This is the chair of the Bhatara." Any deity may be 
invited to take this seat and receive worship. Sometimes a stone 
linga is placed upon it. In some temples a stone chair, called 
padmasana, is set apart for Surya. (d) Small shrines two or 
three feet high, set on posts or pedestals. When well executed 
they are similar to the cabinets used in Japanese temples as 
shrines for images but when, as often happens, they are roughly 
made they are curiously like dovecots. On them are hung strips 
of dried palm -leaves in bunches like the Japanese gohei. As a 
rule the shrines contain no image but only a small seat and some 


objects said to be stones which are wrapped up in a cloth and 
called Artjeh 1 . In some temples (e.g. the Bale Agoeng at 
Singaraja) there are erections called Meru, supposed to represent 
the sacred mountain where the gods reside. They consist of a 
stout pedestal or basis of brick on which is erected a cabinet 
shrine as already described. Above this are large round discs 
made of straw and wood, which may be described as curved 
roofs or umbrellas. They are from three to five in number and 
rise one above the other, with slight intervals between them. 
(e) In many temples (for instance at Sangsit and Sawan) 
pyramidal erections are found either in addition to the Merus 
or instead of them. At the end of the second court is a pyramid 
in four stages or terraces, often with prolongations at the side 
of the main structure or at right angles to it. It is ascended by 
several staircases, consisting of about twenty-five steps, and at 
the top are rows of cabinet shrines. 

Daily worship is not performed in these temples but offerings 
are laid before the shrines from time to time by those who need 
the help of the gods and there are several annual festivals. The 
object of the ritual is not to honour any image or object habitually 
kept in the temple but to induce the gods, who are supposed to 
be hovering round like birds, to seat themselves in the chair 
providecl or to enter into some sacred object, and then receive 
homage and offerings. Thus both the ideas and ceremonial are 
different from those which prevail in Hindu temples and have 
more affinity with Polynesian beliefs. The deities are called 
Dewa, but many of them are indigenous nature spirits (especially 
mountain spirits) such as Dewa Gunung Agung, who are some 
times identified with Indian gods. 

Somewhat different are the Durga temples. These are 
dedicated to the spirits of the dead but the images of Durga 
and her attendant Kaliki receive veneration in them, much as 
in Hindu temples. But on the whole the Malay or Polynesian 
element seemed to me to be in practice stronger than Hinduism 
in the religion of the Balinese and this is borne out by the fact 
that the Pemangku or priest of the indigenous gods ranks 
higher than the Pedanda or Brahman priest. But by talking to 
Balinese one may obtain a different impression, for they are 
proud of their connection with Madjapahit and Hinduism : they 

1 This word appears to be the Sanskrit area, an image for worship. 


willingly speak of such subjects and Hindu deities are constantly 
represented in works of art. Ganesa, Indra, Vishnu, Krishna, 
Surya, Garuda and Siva, as well as the heroes of the Mahabha- 
rata, are well known but I have not heard of worship being 
offered to any of them except Durga and Siva under the form 
of the linga. Figures of Vishnu riding on Garuda are very 
common and a certain class of artificers are able to produce 
images of all well known Indian gods for those who care to 
order them. Many Indian works such as the Veda, Mahabharata, 
Ramayana, Brahmapurana and Nitisastra are known by name 
and are said to exist not in the original Sanskrit but in Kawi. 
I fancy that they are rarely read by the present generation, but 
any knowledge of them is much respected. The Balinese though 
confused in their theology are greatly attached to their religion 
and believe it is the ancient faith of Madjapahit. 

I was unable to discover in the neighbourhood of Singaraja 
even such faint traces of Buddhism as have been reported by 
previous authors 1 , but they may exist elsewhere. The expression 
Siva-Buddha was known to the Pedandas but seemed to have 
no living significance, and perhaps certain families have a 
traditional and purely nominal connection with Buddhism. In 
Durga temples however I have seen figures described as Pusa, 
the Chinese equivalent of Bodhisattva, and it seems that 
Chinese artists have reintroduced into this miscellaneous 
pantheon an element of corrupt Buddhism, though the natives 
do not recognize it as such. 

The art of Bali is more fantastic than that of ancient Java. 
The carved work, whether in stone or wood, is generally 
polychromatic. Figures are piled one on the top of another as 
in the sculptures of Central America and there is a marked 
tendency to emphasize projections. Leaves and flowers are very 
deeply carved and such features as ears, tongues and teeth are 
monstrously prolonged. Thus Balinese statues and reliefs have 
a curiously bristling and scaly appearance and are apt to seem 
barbaric, especially if taken separately 2 . Yet the general aspect 
of the temples is not unpleasing. The brilliant colours and 

1 E.g. Van Eerde, "Hindu Javaansche en Balische Eeredienst" in Bijd. T. L. 
en Volkenkunde van Neder landsc h -Indie, 1910. I visited Bali in 1911. 

2 See Pleyte, Indonesian Art, 1901, especially the seven-headed figure in plate 
XVI said to be Krishna. 


fantastic outlines harmonize with the tropical vegetation which 
surrounds them and suggest that the guardian deities take shape 
as gorgeous insects. Such bizarre figures are not unknown in 
Indian mythology but in Balinese art Chinese influence is 
perhaps stronger than Indian. The Chinese probably frequented 
the island as early as the Hindus and are now found there in 
abundance. Besides the statues called Pusa already mentioned, 
Chinese landscapes are often painted behind the seats of the 
Devas and in the temple on the Volcano Batoer, where a special 
place is assigned to all the Balinese tribes, the Chinese have their 
own shrine. It is said that the temples in southern Bali which 
are older and larger than those in the north show even more 
decided signs of Chinese influence and are surrounded by stone 
figures of Chinese as guardians. 

m. 13 


THE term Central Asia is here used to denote the Tarim basin, 
without rigidly excluding neighbouring countries such as the 
Oxus region and Badakshan. This basin is a depression sur 
rounded on three sides by high mountains : only on the east is 
the barrier dividing it from China relatively low. The water of 
the whole area discharges through the many branched Tarim 
river into Lake Lobnor. This so-called lake is now merely a 
flooded morass and the basin is a desert with occasional oases 
lying chiefly near its edges. The fertile portions were formerly 
more considerable but a quarter of a century ago this remote 
and lonely region interested no one but a few sportsmen and 
geographers. The results of recent exploration have been im 
portant and surprising. The arid sands have yielded not only 
ruins, statues and frescoes but whole libraries written in a dozen 
languages. The value of such discoveries for the general history 
of Asia is clear and they are of capital importance for our special 
subject, since during many centuries the Tarim region and its 
neighbouring lands were centres and highways for Buddhism 
and possibly the scene of many changes whose origin is now 
obscure. But I am unfortunate in having to discuss Central 
Asian Buddhism before scholars have had time to publish or 
even catalogue completely the store of material collected and 
the reader must remember that the statements in this chapter 
are at best tentative and incomplete. They will certainly be 
supplemented and probably corrected as year by year new 
documents and works of art are made known. 

Tarim, in watery metaphor, is not so much a basin as a pool 
in a tidal river flowing alternately to and from the sea. We can 
imagine that in such a pool creatures of very different proven 
ance might be found together. So currents both from east to 
west and from west to east passed through the Tarim, leaving 
behind whatever could live there: Chinese administration and 


civilization from the east : Iranians from the west, bearing with 
them in the stream fragments that had drifted from Asia Minor 
and Byzantium, while still other currents brought Hindus and 
Tibetans from the south. 

One feature of special interest in the history of the Tarim 
is that it was in touch with Bactria and the regions conquered 
by Alexander and through them with western art and thought. 
Another is that its inhabitants included not only Iranian tribes 
but the speakers of an Aryan language hitherto unknown, whose 
presence so far east may oblige us to revise our views about the 
history of the Aryan race. A third characteristic is that from 
the dawn of history to the middle ages warlike nomads were 
continually passing through the country. All these people, 
whether we call them Iranians, Turks or Mongols had the same 
peculiarity : they had little culture of their own but they picked 
up and transported the ideas of others. The most remarkable ex 
ample of this is the introduction of Islam into Europe and India. 
Nothing quite so striking happened in earlier ages, yet tribes similar 
to the Turks brought Manichseism and Nestorian Christianity into 
China and played no small part in the introduction of Buddhism. 

A brief catalogue of the languages represented in the manu 
scripts and inscriptions discovered will give a safe if only 
provisional idea of the many influences at work in Central Asia 
and its importance as a receiving and distributing centre. The 
number of tongues simultaneously in use for popular or learned 
purposes was remarkably large. To say nothing of great polyglot 
libraries like Tun-huang, a small collection at Toyog is reported 
as containing Indian, Manichaean, Syriac, Sogdian, Uigur and 
Chinese books. The writing materials employed were various 
like the idioms and include imported palm leaves, birch bark, 
plates of wood or bamboo, leather and paper, which last was in 
use from the first century A.D. onwards. In this dry atmosphere 
all enjoyed singular longevity. 

Numerous Sanskrit writings have been found, all dealing 
with religious or quasi religious subjects, as medicine and 
grammar were then considered to be. Relatively modern 
Mahayanist literature is abundant but greater interest attaches 
to portions of an otherwise lost Sanskrit canon which agree in 
substance though not verbally with the corresponding passages 
in the Pali Canon and are apparently the original text from 


which much of the Chinese Tripitaka was translated. The 
manuscripts hitherto published include Sutras from the Sam- 
yukta and Ekottara Agamas, a considerable part of the 
Dharmapada, and the Pratimoksha of the Sarvastivadin school. 
Fa-Hsien states that the monks of Central Asia were all students 
of the language of India and even in the seventh century Hsiian 
Chuang tells us the same of Kucha. Portions of a Sanskrit 
grammar have been found near Turfan and in the earlier period 
at any rate Sanskrit was probably understood in polite and 
learned society. Some palm leaves from Ming-Oi contain frag 
ments of two Buddhist religious dramas, one of which is the 
Sariputra-prakarana of Asvaghosha. The handwriting is believed 
to date from the epoch of Kanishka so that we have here the 
oldest known Sanskrit manuscripts, as well as the oldest 
specimens of Indian dramatic art 1 . They are written like the 
Indian classical dramas in Sanskrit and various forms of 
Prakrit. The latter represent hitherto unknown stages in the 
development of Indian dialects and some of them are closely 
allied to the language of Asoka s inscriptions. Another Prakrit 
text is the version of the Dharmapada written in Kharoshthi 
characters and discovered by the Dutreuil de Rhins mission 
near Khotan 2 , and numerous official documents in this language 
and alphabet have been brought home by Stein from the same 
region. It is probable that they are approximately coeval with 
the Kushan dynasty in India and the use of an Indian vernacular 
as well as of Sanskrit in Central Asia shows that the connection 
between the two countries was not due merely to the intro 
duction of Buddhism. 

Besides these hitherto unknown forms of Prakrit, Central 
Asia has astonished the learned world with two new languages, 
both written in a special variety of the Brahmi alphabet called 
Central Asian Gupta. One is sometimes called Nordarisch and 
is regarded by some authorities as the language of the Sakas 
whose incursions into India appear to have begun about the 
second century B.C. and by others as the language of the 
Kushans and of Kanishka s Empire. It is stated that the basis 
of the language is Iranian but strongly influenced by Indian 

1 See Liiders, Bruchstilcke Buddhistischer Dramen, 1911, and id., Das Sdriputra- 
prakarana, 1911. 

2 See Senart, "Le ms Kharoshthi du Dhammapada," in J.A., 1898, n. p. 193. 


idioms 1 . Many translations of Mahay anist literature (for instance 
the Suvarnaprabhasa, Vajracchedika and Aparimitayus Sutras) 
were made into it and it appears to have been spoken principally 
in the southern part of the Tarim basin 2 . The other new language 
was spoken principally on its northern edge and has been called 
Tokharian, which name implies that it was the tongue of the 
Tokhars or Indoscyths 3 . But there is no proof of this and it is 
safer to speak of it as the language of Kucha or Kuchanese. It 
exists in two different dialects known as A and B whose geo 
graphical distribution is uncertain but numerous official 
documents dated in the first half of the seventh century show 
that it was the ordinary speech of Kucha and Turfan. It was 
also a literary language and among the many translations dis 
covered are versions in it of the Dharmapada and Vinaya. It is 
extremely interesting to find that this language spoken by the 
early and perhaps original inhabitants of Kucha not only belongs 
to the Aryan family but is related more nearly to the western 
than the eastern branch. It cannot be classed in the Indo- 
Iranian group but shows perplexing affinities to Latin, Greek, 
Keltic, Slavonic and Armenian 4 . It is possible that it influenced 
Chinese Buddhist literature 5 . 

Besides the "Nordarisch" mentioned above which was 
written in Brahmi, three other Iranian languages have left 
literary remains in Central Asia, all written in an alphabet of 
Aramaic origin. Two of them apparently represent the speech 
of south-western Persia under the Sassanids, and of north 
western Persia under the Arsacids. The texts preserved in both 
are Manichaean but the third Iranian language, or Sogdian, has 

1 Liiders, "Die Sakas und die Nordarische Sprache," Sitzungsber. der Ron. 
Preuss. Akad. 1913. Konow, Getting. Gel Anz. 1912, pp. 551 ff. 

2 See Hoernle in J.E.A.8. 1910, pp. 837 ff. and 1283 ff. ; 1911, pp. 202 ff., 447 ff. 

3 An old Turkish text about Maitreya states that it was translated from an 
Indian language into Tokhri and from Tokhri into Turkish. See F. K. W. Miiller, 
Sitzungsber. der Kon. Preuss. Akad. 1907, p. 958. But it is not clear what is meant 
by Tokhri. 

4 The following are some words in this language: 

Kant, a hundred; rake, a word; por, fire; soye, son (Greek vl6s); suwan, 
swese, rain (Greek tfei yeros); alyek, another; okso, an ox. 

6 The numerous papers on this language are naturally quickly superseded. But 
Sieg and Siegling Tokharisch, "Die Sprache der Indoskythen" (Sitzungsber. der 
Berl. Ak. Wiss. 1908, p. 815), may be mentioned and Sylvain Levi, "Tokharien B, 
Langue de Koutcha," J.A. 1913, n. p. 311. 


a more varied literary content and offers Buddhist, Manichsean 
and Christian texts, apparently in that chronological order. It 
was originally the language of the region round Samarkand but 
acquired an international character for it was used by merchants 
throughout the Tarim basin and spread even to China. Some 
Christian texts in Syriac have also been found. 

The Orkhon inscriptions exhibit an old Turkish dialect 
written in the characters commonly called Runes and this Runic 
alphabet is used in manuscripts found at Tun-huang and Miran 
but those hitherto published are not Buddhist. But another 
Turkish dialect written in the Uigur alphabet, which is derived 
from the Syriac, was (like Sogdian) extensively used for 
Buddhist, Manichaean and Christian literature. The name Uigur 
is perhaps more correctly applied to the alphabet than the 
language 1 which appears to have been the literary form of the 
various Turkish idioms spoken north and south of the Tien-shan. 
The use of this dialect for Buddhist literature spread consider 
ably whqn the Uigurs broke the power of Tibet in the Tarim 
basin about 860 and founded a kingdom themselves : it extended 
into China and lasted long, for Sutras in Uigur were printed at 
Peking in 1330 and Uigur manuscripts copied in the reign of 
K ang Hsi (1662-1723) are reported from a monastery near 
Suchow 2 . I am informed that a variety of this alphabet written 
in vertical columns is still used in some parts of Kansu where 
a Turkish dialect is spoken. Though Turkish was used by 
Buddhists in both the east and west of the Tarim basin, it 
appears to have been introduced into Khotan only after the 
Moslim conquest. Another Semitic script, hitherto unknown and 
found only in a fragmentary form, is believed to be the writing 
of the White Huns or Hephthalites. 

As the Tibetans were the predominant power in the Tarim 
basin from at least the middle of the eighth until the middle of 
the ninth century, it is not surprising that great stores of 
Tibetan manuscripts have been found in the regions of Khotan, 
Miran and Tun-huang. In Turfan, as lying more to the north, 
traces of Tibetan influence, though not absent, are fewer. The 

1 See Radloff Tisastvustik (Bibl. Buddh. vol. xu.), p. v. This manuscript came 
from Urumtsi. A translation of a portion of the Saddharma-pundarika (Bibl. 
Buddh. xiv.) was found at Turfan. 

2 Laufer in Toung Pao, 1907, p. 392; Radloff, Kuan-si-im Pursar, p. vii. 


documents discovered must be anterior to the ninth century 
and comprise numerous official and business papers as well as 
Buddhist translations 1 . They are of great importance for the 
history of the Tibetan language and also indicate that at the 
period when they were written Buddhism at most shared with 
the Bon religion the allegiance of the Tibetans. No Manichaean 
or Christian translations in Tibetan have yet been discovered. 

Vast numbers of Chinese texts both religious and secular are 
preserved in all the principal centres and offer many points of 
interest among which two may be noticed. Firstly the posts on 
the old military frontier near Tun-huang have furnished a series 
of dated documents ranging from 98B.C. to 153A.D. 2 There is 
therefore no difficulty in admitting that there was intercourse 
between China and Central Asia at this period. Secondly, some 
documents of the T ang dynasty are Manichsean, with an 
admixture of Buddhist and Taoist ideas 3 . 

The religious monuments of Central Asia comprise stupas, 
caves and covered buildings used as temples or viharas. Bud 
dhist, Manichaean and Christian edifices have been discovered 
but apparently no shrines of the Zoroastrian religion, though it 
had many adherents in these regions, and though representa 
tions of Hindu deities have been found, Hinduism is not known 
to have existed apart from Buddhism 4 . Caves decorated for 
Buddhist worship are found not only in the Tarim basin but at 
Tun-huang on the frontier of China proper, near Ta-t ung-fu in 
northern Shensi, and in the defile of Lung-men in the province 
of Ho-nan. The general scheme and style of these caves are 
similar, but while in the last two, as in most Indian caves, the 
figures and ornaments are true sculpture, in the caves of Tun- 
huang and the Tarim not only is the wall prepared for frescoes, 
but even the figures are executed in stucco. This form of decora 
tion was congenial to Central Asia for the images which embel 
lished the temple walls were moulded in the same fashion. 
Temples and caves were sometimes combined, for instance at 
Bazaklik where many edifices were erected on a terrace in front 

1 See especially Stein s Ancient Khotan, app. B, and Francke in J.R.A.S. 1914, 
p. 37. 

2 Chavannes, Les documents chinois decouverts par Aurel Stein, 1913. 

3 See especially Chavannes and Pelliot, "Traite Manicheen" in J.A. 1911 and 

4 Hsiian Chuang notes its existence however in Kabul and Kapis a. 


of a series of caves excavated in a mountain corner. Few roofed 
buildings are well preserved but it seems certain that some were 
high quadrilateral structures, crowned by a dome of a shape 
found in Persia, and that others had barrel-shaped roofs, 
apparently resembling the chaityas of Ter and Chezarla 1 . Le 
Coq states that this type of architecture is also found in Persia 2 . 
The commonest type of temple was a hall having at its further 
end a cella, with a passage behind to allow of circumambulation. 
Such halls were frequently enlarged by the addition of side 
rooms and sometimes a shrine was enclosed by several rectangular 
courts 3 . 

Many stupas have been found either by themselves or in 
combination with other buildings. The one which is best pre 
served (or at any rate reproduced in greatest detail) 4 is the 
Stupa of Rawak. It is set in a quadrangle bounded by a wall 
which was ornamented on both its inner and outer face by a 
series of gigantic statues in coloured stucco. The dome is set 
upon a rectangular base disposed in three stories and this 
arrangement is said to characterize all the stupas of Turkestan 
as well as those of the Kabul valley and adjacent regions. 

This architecture appears to owe nothing to China but to 
include both Indian (especially Gandharan) and Persian ele 
ments. Many of its remarkable features, if not common else 
where, are at least widely scattered. Thus some of the caves at 
Ming-Oi have dome-like roofs ornamented with a pattern com 
posed of squares within squares, set at an angle with each other. 
A similar ornamentation is reported from Pandrenthan in 
Kashmir and from Bamian 5 . 

The antiquities of Central Asia include frescoes executed on 
the walls of caves and buildings, and paintings on silk paper 6 . 
The origin and affinities of this art are still the subject of 
investigation and any discussion of them would lead me too 
far from my immediate subject. But a few statements can be 

See for these Fergusson-Burgess, History of Indian Architecture, i. pp. 125-8. 

J.R.A.S. 1909, p. 313. 

E.g. Griinwedel, Altbuddhistische Kultstdtten, fig. 624. 

Stein, Ancient Khotan, plates xiii-xvii and xl, pp. 83 and 482 S. 

See Griinwedel, Buddh. Kultstdtten, pp. 129-130 and plate. Foucher, "L Art 
Greco-Bouddhique," p. 145, J.R.A.S. 1886, 333 and plate i. 

6 See Wachsberger s " Stil-kritische Studien zur Kunst Chinesisch-Turkestan s " 
in Ostasiatische Ztsjt. 1914 and 1915. 


made with some confidence. The influence of Gandhara is plain 
in architecture, sculpture, and painting. The oldest works may 
be described as simply Gandharan but this early style is followed 
by another which shows a development both in technique and 
in mythology. It doubtless represents Indian Buddhist art as 
modified by local painters and sculptors. Thus in the Turf an 
frescoes the drapery and composition are Indian but the faces 
are eastern asiatic. Sometimes however they represent a race 
with red hair and blue eyes. 

On the whole the paintings testify to the invasion of Far 
Eastern art by the ideas and designs of Indian Buddhism rather 
than to an equal combination of Indian and Chinese influence 
but in some forms of decoration, particularly that employed in 
the Khan s palace at Idiqutshahri 1 , Chinese style is predominant. 
It may be too that the early pre-buddhist styles of painting in 
China and Central Asia were similar. In the seventh century 
a Khotan artist called Wei-ch ih Po-chih-na migrated to China, 
where both he and his son Wei-ch ih I-seng acquired considerable 

Persian influence also is manifest in many paintings. A 
striking instance may be seen in two plates published by Stein 2 
apparently representing the same Boddhisattva. In one he is 
of the familiar Indian type: the other seems at first sight 
a miniature of some Persian prince, black-bearded and high- 
booted, but the figure has four arms. As might be expected, it 
is the Manichaean paintings which are least Indian in character. 
They represent a "lost late antique school 3 " which often recalls 
Byzantine art and was perhaps the parent of mediaeval Persian 
miniature painting. 

The paintings of Central Asia resemble its manuscripts. It 
is impossible to look through any collection of them without 
feeling that currents of art and civilization flowing from neigh 
bouring and even from distant lands have met and mingled in 
this basin. As the reader turns over the albums of Stein, 
Griinwedel or Le Coq he is haunted by strange reminiscences 
and resemblances, and wonders if they are merely coincidences 
or whether the pedigrees of these pictured gods and men really 

1 See Griinwedel, Buddh. Kultstdtten, pp. 332 S. 

2 Ancient Khotan, vol. 11. plates Ix and Ixi. 

3 Le Coq in J.E.A.S. 1909, pp. 299 ff. See the whole article. 


stretch across time and space to far off origins. Here are coins 
and seals of Hellenic design, nude athletes that might adorn 
a Greek vase, figures that recall Egypt, Byzantium or the. 
Bayeux tapestry, with others that might pass for Christian 
ecclesiastics; Chinese sages, Krishna dancing to the sound of 
his flute, frescoes that might be copied from Ajanta, winged 
youths to be styled cupids or cherubs according to our 
mood 1 . 

Stein mentions 2 that he discovered a Buddhist monastery 
in the terminal marshes of the Helmund in the Persian province 
of Seistan, containing paintings of a Hellenistic type which show 
"for the first time in situ the Iranian link of the chain which 
connects the Grseco-Buddhist art of extreme north-west India 
with the Buddhist art of Central Asia and the Far East." 

Central Asian art is somewhat wanting in spontaneity. 
Except when painting portraits (which are many) the artists 
do not seem to go to nature or even their own imagination and 
visions. They seem concerned to reproduce some religious scene 
not as they saw it but as it was represented by Indian or other 

Only one side of Central Asian history can be written with 
any completeness, namely its relations with China. Of these 
some account with dates can be given, thanks to the Chinese 
annals which incidentally supply valuable information about 
earlier periods. But unfortunately these relations were often 
interrupted and also the political record does not always furnish 
the data which are of most importance for the history of 
Buddhism. Still there is no better framework available for 
arranging our data. But even were our information much 
fuller, we should probably find the history of Central Asia 
scrappy and disconnected. Its cities were united by no bond of 
common blood or language, nor can any one of them have had 
a continuous development in institutions, letters or art. These 
were imported in a mature form and more or less assimilated 
in a precocious Augustan age, only to be overwhelmed in some 
catastrophe which, if not merely destructive, at least brought 
the ideas and baggage of another race. 

1 For some of the more striking drawings referred to see Griinwedel, Buddh. 
Kultstdtten, figs. 51, 53, 239, 242, 317, 337, 345-349. 

2 In Qeog. Journal, May 1916, p. 362. 


It was under the Emperor Wu-ti (140-87 B.C.) of the Han 
dynasty that the Chinese first penetrated into the Tarim basin. 
They had heard that the Hsiung-nu, of whose growing power 
they were afraid, had driven the Yueh-chih westwards and they 
therefore despatched an envoy named Chang Ch ien in the hope 
of inducing the Yueh-chih to co-operate with them against the 
common enemy. Chang Ch ien made two adventurous expedi 
tions, and visited the Yueh-chih in their new home somewhere 
on the Oxus. His mission failed to attain its immediate political 
object but indirectly had important results, for it revealed to 
China that the nations on the Oxus were in touch with India 
on one hand and with the more mysterious west on the other. 
Henceforth it was her aim to keep open the trade route leading 
westwards from the extremity of the modern Kansu province to 
Kashgar, Khotan and the countries with which those cities 
communicated. Fat from wishing to isolate herself or exclude 
foreigners, her chief desire was to keep the road to the west 
open, and although there were times when the flood of Buddhism 
which swept along this road alarmed the more conservative 
classes, yet for many centuries everything that came in the way 
of merchandize, art, literature, and religion was eagerly received. 
The chief hindrance to this intercourse was the hostility of the 
wild tribes who pillaged caravans and blocked the route, and 
throughout the whole stretch of recorded history the Chinese 
used the same method to weaken them and keep the door open, 
namely to create or utilize a quarrel between two tribes. The 
Empire allied itself with one in order to crush the second and 
that being done, proceeded to deal with its former ally. 

Dated records beginning with the year 98 B.C. testify to the 
presence of a Chinese garrison near the modern Tun-huang 1 . 
But at the beginning of the Christian era the Empire was 
convulsed by internal rebellion and ceased to have influence or 
interest in Central Asia. With the restoration of order things 
took another turn. The reign of the Emperor Ming-ti is the 
traditional date for the introduction of Buddhism and it also 
witnessed the victorious campaigns of the famous general and 
adventurer Pan Ch ao. He conquered Khotan and Kashgar and 
victoriously repulsed the attacks of the Kushans or Yueh-chih 
who were interested in these regions and endeavoured to stop 
his progress. The Chinese annals do not give the name of their 
1 Chavannes, Documents chinois d&ouverts par Aurel Stein, 1913. 


king but it must have been Kanishka if he came to the throne 
in 78. I confess however that this silence makes it difficult for 
me to accept 78-123 A.D. as the period of Kanishka s reign, for 
he must have been a monarch of some celebrity and if the 
Chinese had come into victorious contact with him, would not 
their historians have mentioned it? It seems to me more 
probable that he reigned before or after Pan Ch ao s career hi 
Central Asia which lasted from A.D. 73-102. With the end of 
that career Chinese activity ceased for some time and perhaps 
the Kushans conquered Kashgar and Khotan early in the second 
century. Neither the degenerate Han dynasty nor the stormy 
Three Kingdoms could grapple with distant political problems 
and during the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries northern China 
was divided among Tartar states, short-lived and mutually 
hostile. The Empire ceased to be a political power in the Tarim 
basin but intercourse with Central Asia and in particular the 
influx of Buddhism increased, and there was also a return wave 
of Chinese influence westwards. Meanwhile two tribes, the 
Hephthalites (or White Huns) and the Turks 1 , successively 
became masters of Central Asia and founded states sometimes 
called Empires that is to say they overran vast tracts within 
which they took tribute without establishing any definite 
constitution or frontiers. 

When the T ang dynasty (618-907) re-united the Empire, 
the Chinese Government with characteristic tenacity reverted 
to its old policy of keeping the western road open and to its old 
methods. The Turks were then divided into two branches, the 
northern and western, at war with one another. The Chinese 
allied themselves with the latter, defeated the northern Turks 
and occupied Turf an (640). Then in a series of campaigns, in 
which they were supported by the Uigurs, they conquered their 
former allies the western Turks and proceeded to organize the 
Tarim basin under the name of the Four Garrisons 2 . This was 
the most glorious period of China s foreign policy and at no 
other time had she so great a position as a western power. The 

1 These of course are not the Osmanlis or Turks of Constantinople. The Osmanlis 
are the latest of the many branches of the Turks, who warred and ruled in Central 
Asia with varying success from the fifth to the eighth centuries. 

a That is Kashgar, Khotan, Kucha and Tokmak for which last Karashahr was 
subsequently substituted. The territory was also called An Hsi. 


list of hei; possessions included Bokhara in the west and starting 
from Semirechinsk and Tashkent in the north extended south 
wards so as to embrace Afghanistan with the frontier districts 
of India and Persia 1 . It is true that the Imperial authority in 
many of these regions was merely nominal: when the Chinese 
conquered a tribe which claimed sovereignty over them they 
claimed sovereignty themselves. But for the history of civiliza 
tion, for the migration of art and ideas, even this nominal claim 
is important, for China was undoubtedly in touch with India, 
Bokhara and" Persia. 

But no sooner did these great vistas open, than new enemies 
appeared to bar the road. The Tibetans descended into the 
Tarim basin and after defeating the Chinese in 670 held the 
Four Garrisons till 692, when the fortunes of war were reversed. 
But the field was not left clear for China: the power of the 
northern Turks revived, and Mohammedanism, then a new force 
but destined to ultimate triumph in politics and religion alike, 
appeared in the west. The conquests of the Mohammedan 
general Qutayba (705-715) extended to Ferghana and he 
attacked Kashgar. In the long reign of Hsiian Tsung China 
waged a double warfare against the Arabs and Tibetans. For 
about thirty years (719-751) the struggle was successful. Even 
Tabaristan is said to have acknowledged China s suzerainty. 
Her troops crossed the Hindu Kush and reached Gilgit. But in 
751 they sustained a crushing defeat near Tashkent. The 
disaster was aggravated by the internal troubles of the Empire 
and it was long before Chinese authority recovered from the 
blow 2 . The Tibetans reaped the advantage. Except in Turf an, 
they were the dominant power of the Tarim basin for a century, 
they took tribute from China and when it was refused sacked 
the capital, Chang-an (763). It would appear however that for 
a time Chinese garrisons held out in Central Asia and Chinese 
officials exercised some authority, though they obtained no 
support from the Empire 3 . But although even late in the tenth 
century Khotan sent embassies to the Imperial Court, China 

1 See for lists and details Chavannes, Documents sur les Tou-kiue Occidentaux, 
pp. 67 ff. and 270 ff. 

2 The conquest and organization of the present Chinese Turkestan dates only 
from the reign of Ch ien Lung. 

8 Thus the pilgrim Wu-K ung mentions Chinese officials in the Four Garrisons. 


gradually ceased to be a Central Asian power. She made a 
treaty with the Tibetans (783) and an alliance with the Uigurs, 
who now came to the front and occupied Turf an, where there 
was a flourishing Uigur kingdom with Manichaeism as the state 
religion from about 750 to 843. In that year the Kirghiz sacked 
Turfan and it is interesting to note that the Chinese who had 
hitherto tolerated Manichaeism as the religion of their allies, 
at once began to issue restrictive edicts against it. But except 
in Turfan it does not appear that the power of the Uigurs was 
weakened 1 . In 860-817 they broke up Tibetan rule in the 
Tarim basin and formed a new kingdom of their own which 
apparently included Kashgar, Urumtsi and Kucha but not 
Khotan. The prince of Kashgar embraced Islam about 945, 
but the conversion of Khotan and Turfan was later. With this 
conversion the connection of the Tarim basin with the history 
of Buddhism naturally ceases, for it does not appear that the 
triumphal progress of Lamaism under Khubilai Khan affected 
these regions. 


The Tarim basin, though sometimes united under foreign 
rule, had no indigenous national unity. Cities, or groups of 
towns, divided by deserts lived their own civic life and enjoyed 
considerable independence under native sovereigns, although 
the Chinese, Turks or Tibetans quartered troops in them and 
appointed residents to supervise the collection of tribute. The 
chief of these cities or oases were Kashgar in the west : Kucha, 
Karashahr, Turfan (Idiqutshahri, Chotscho) and Hami lying 
successively to the north-east : Yarkand, Khotan and Miran to 
the south-east 2 . It may be well to review briefly the special 
history of some of them. 

The relics found near Kashgar, the most western of these 
cities, are comparatively few, probably because its position 
exposed it to the destructive influence of Islam at an early date. 
Chinese writers reproduce the name as Ch ia-sha, Chieh-ch a, 
etc., but also call the region Su-le, Shu-le, or Sha-le 3 . It is 

1 See for this part of their history, Grenard s article in J.A. 1900, I. pp. 1-79. 

2 Pelliot also attributes importance to a Sogdian Colony to the south of Lob 
Nor, which may have had much to do with the transmission of Buddhism and 
Nestorianism to China. See J.A. Jan. 1916, pp. 111-123. 

8 These words have been connected with the tribe called Sacae, Sakas, or Sb k. 


mentioned first in the Han annals. After the missions of Chang- 
Ch ien trade with Bactria and Sogdiana grew rapidly and 
Kashgar which was a convenient emporium became a Chinese 
protected state in the first century B.C. But when the hold of 
China relaxed about the time of the Christian era it was subdued 
by the neighbouring kingdom of Khotan. The conquests of 
Pan-Ch ao restored Chinese supremacy but early in the second 
century the Yueh-chih interfered in the politics of Kashgar and 
placed on the throne a prince who was their tool. The intro 
duction of Buddhism is ascribed to this epoch 1 . If Kanishka 
was then reigning the statement that he conquered Kashgar 
and Khotan is probably correct. It is supported by Hsiian 
Chuang s story of the hostages and by his assertion that 
Kanishka s rule extended to the east of the Ts ung-ling moun 
tains : also by the discovery of Kanishka s coins in the Khotan 
district. Little is heard of Kashgar until Fa-Hsien visited it in 
400 2 . He speaks of the quinquennial religious conferences held 
by the king, at one of which he was present, of relics of the 
Buddha and of a monastery containing a thousand monks all 
students of the Hinayana. About 460 the king sent as a present 
to the Chinese Court an incombustible robe once worn by the 
Buddha, Shortly afterwards Kashgar was incorporated in the 
dominions of the Hephthalites, and when these succumbed to 
the western Turks about 465, it merely changed masters. 

Hsiian Chuang has left an interesting account of Kashgar 
as he found it on his return journey 3 . The inhabitants were 
sincere Buddhists and there were more than a thousand monks 
of the Sarvastivadin school. But their knowledge was not in 
proportion to their zeal for they read the scriptures diligently 
without understanding them. They used an Indian alphabet 
into which they had introduced alterations. 

1 See Klaproth, Tabl. Historique, p. 166, apparently quoting from Chinese 
sources. Specht, J.A. 1897, n. p. 187. Franke, Be.itr.~zur Kenntniss Zentral-Asiens, 
p. 83. The passage quoted by Specht from the Later Han Annals clearly states that 
the Yiieh-chih made a rnan of their own choosing prince of Kashgar, although, as 
Franke points out, it makes no reference to Kanishka or the story of the hostages 
related by Hsiian Chuang. 

2 Fa-Hsien sChieh-ch a has been interpreted as Skardo, butChavannes seems to 
have proved that it is Kashgar. 

3 About 643 A.D. He mentions that the inhabitants tattooed their bodies, flat 
tened their children s heads and had green eyes. Also that they spoke a peculiar 


According to Hsiian Chuang s religious conspectus of these 
regions, Kashgar, Osh and Kucha belonged to the Small 
Vehicle, Yarkand and Khotan mainly to the Great. The Small 
Vehicle also flourished at Balkh and at Bamian 1 . In Kapisa 
the Great Vehicle was predominant but there were also many 
Hindu sects : in the Kabul valley too Hinduism and Buddhism 
seem to have been mixed : in Persia 2 there were several hundred 
Sarvastivadin monks. In Tokhara (roughly equivalent to 
Badakshan) there was some Buddhism but apparently it did 
not flourish further north in the regions of Tashkent and 
Samarkand. In the latter town there were two disused mon 
asteries but when Hsiian Chuang s companions entered them 
they were mobbed by the populace. He says that these rioters 
were fire worshippers and that the Turks whom he visited 
somewhere near Aulieata were of the same religion. This last 
statement is perhaps inaccurate but the T ang annals expressly 
state that the population of Kashgar and Khotan was in part 
Zoroastrian 3 . No mention of Nestorianism in Kashgar at this 
date has yet been discovered, although in the thirteenth century 
it was a Nestorian see. But since Nestorianism had penetrated 
even to China in the seventh century, it probably also existed 
in Samarkand and Kashgar. 

The pilgrim Wu-K ung spent five months in Kashgar about 
786, but there appear to be no later data of interest for the study 
of Buddhism. 

The town of Kucha 4 lies between Kashgar and Turfan, 
somewhat to the west of Karashahr. In the second century B.C. 
it was already a flourishing city. Numerous dated documents 
show that about 630 A.D. the language of ordinary life was the 
interesting idiom sometimes called Tokharian B, and, since the 
Chinese annals record no alien invasion, we may conclude that 
Kucha existed as an Aryan colony peopled by the speakers of 

1 At Bamian the monks belonged to the Lokottaravadin School. 

2 Beal, Records, n. p. 278. The pilgrim is speaking from hearsay and it is not 
clear to what part of Persia he refers. 

3 See Chavannes, Documents sur les Tou-kiue Occidentaux, pp. 121, 125. The 
inhabitants of K ang (Samarkand or Sogdiana) are said to honour both religions. 
76. p. 135. 

* Known to the Chinese by several slightly different names such as Ku-chih, 
Kiu-tse which are all attempts to represent the same sound. For Kucha see S. LC" vi s 
most interesting article "Le Tokharien B langue de Koutcha" in J.A. 1913, 11. 
pp. 311 ff. 


this language some centuries before the Christian era. It is 
mentioned in the Han annals and when brought into contact 
with China in the reign of Wu-ti (140-87 B.C.) it became a place 
of considerable importance, as it lay at the junction 1 of the 
western trade routes leading to Kashgar and Aulieata respec 
tively. Kucha absorbed some Chinese civilization but its 
doubtful loyalty to the Imperial throne often involved it in 
trouble. It is not until the Western Tsin dynasty that we find 
it described as a seat of Buddhism. The Tsin annals say that it 
was enclosed by a triple wall and contained a thousand stupas 
and Buddhist temples as well as a magnificent palace for the 
king 2 . This implies that Buddhism had been established for some 
time but no evidence has been found to date its introduction. 

In 383 Fu-chien, Emperor of the Tsin dynasty, sent his 
general Lu-Kuang to subdue Kucha 3 . The expedition was 
successful and among the captives taken was the celebrated 
Kumarajiva. Lii-Kuang was so pleased with the magnificent 
and comfortable life of Kucha that he thought of settling there 
but Kumarajiva prophesied that he was destined to higher 
things. So they left to try their fortune in China. Lii-Kuang 
rose to be ruler of the state known as Southern Liang and his 
captive and adviser became one of the greatest names in Chinese 

Kumarajiva is a noticeable figure and his career illustrates 
several points of importance. First, his father came from 
India and he himself went as a youth to study in Kipin (Kash 
mir) and then returned to Kucha. Living in this remote corner 
of Central Asia he was recognized as an encyclopaedia of Indian 
learning including a knowledge of the Vedas and "heretical 
s*astras." Secondly after his return to Kucha he was converted 
to Mahay anism. Thirdly he went from Kucha to China where 
he had a distinguished career as a translator. Thus we see how 

1 J.A. 1913, ii. p. 326. 

2 See Chavannes in Stein s Ancient Khotan, p. 544. The Western Tsin reigned 

8 The circumstances which provoked the expedition are not very clear. It was 
escorted by the king of Turfan and other small potentates who were the vassals of 
the Tsin and also on bad terms with Kucha. They probably asked Fu-chien for 
assistance in subduing their rival which he was delighted to give. Some authorities 
(e.g. Nanjio Cat. p. 406) give Karashahr as the name of Kumarajiva s town, but 
this seema to be a mistake. ,4 


China was brought into intellectual touch with India and how 
the Mahayana was gaining in Central Asia territory previously 
occupied by the Hinayana. The monk Dharmagupta who passed 
through Kucha about 584 says that the king favoured Mahayan- 
ism 1 . That Kucha should have been the home of distinguished 
translators is not strange for a statement 2 has been preserved 
to the effect that Sanskrit texts were used in the cities lying to 
the west of it, but that in Kucha itself Indian languages were 
not understood and translations were made, although such 
Sanskrit words as were easily intelligible were retained. 

In the time of the Wei, Kucha again got into trouble with 
China and was brought to order by another punitive expedition 
in 448. After this lesson a long series of tribute-bearing missions 
is recorded, sent first to the court of Wei, and afterwards to the 
Liang, Chou and Sui. The notices respecting the country are to 
a large extent repetitions. They praise its climate, fertility and 
mineral wealth : the magnificence of the royal palace, the number 
and splendour of the religious establishments. Peacocks were 
as common as fowls and the Chinese annalists evidently had a 
general impression of a brilliant, pleasure-loving and not very 
moral city. It was specially famous for its music : the songs and 
dances of Kucha, performed by native artists, were long in 
favour at the Imperial Court, and a list of twenty airs has been 
preserved 3 . 

When the T ang dynasty came to the throne Kucha sent an 
embassy to do homage but again supported Karashahr in 
rebellion and again brought on herself a punitive expedition 
(648). But the town was peaceful and prosperous when visited 
by Hsiian Chuang about 630. 

His description agrees in substance with other notices, but 
he praises the honesty of the people. He mentions that the 
king was a native and that a much modified Indian alphabet 
was in use. As a churchman, he naturally dwells with pleasure 
on the many monasteries and great images, the quinquennial 

1 S. L^vi, J.A. 1913, n. p. 348, quoting Hsu Kao Seng Chuan. 

2 Quoted by S. Levi from the Sung Kao Seng Chuan. See J.A. 1913, n. p. 344 
and B.E.F.E.O. 1904, p. 562. 

8 As a proof of foreign influence in Chinese culture, it is interesting to note that 
there were seven orchestras for the imperial banquets, including those of Kucha, 
Bokhara and India and a mixed one in which were musicians from Samarkand, 
Kashgar, Camboja and Japan. 


assemblies and religious processions. There were more than 
100 monasteries with upwards of 5000 brethren who all followed 
the Sarvastivada and the "gradual teaching," which probably 
means the Hinayana as opposed to the sudden illumination 
caused by Mahayanist revelation. The pilgrim differed from his 
hosts on the matter of diet and would not join them in eating 
meat. But he admits that the monks were strict according to 
their lights and that the monasteries were centres of learning. 

In 658 Kucha was made the seat of government for the 
territory known as the Four Garrisons. During the next century 
it sent several missions to the Chinese and about 788 was visited 
by Wu-K ung, who indicates that music and Buddhism were 
still flourishing. He mentions an Abbot who spoke with equal 
fluency the language of the country, Chinese and Sanskrit. 
Nothing is known about Kucha from this date until the eleventh 
century when we again hear of missions to the Chinese Court. 
The annals mention them under the heading of Uigurs, but 
Buddhism seems not to have been extinct for even in 1096 the 
Envoy presented to the Emperor a jade Buddha. According to 
Hsiian Chuang s account the Buddhism of Karashahr (Yenki) 
was the same as that of Kucha and its monasteries enjoyed the 
same reputation for strictness and learning. 

Turfan is an oasis containing the ruins of several cities and 
possibly different sites were used as the capital at different 
periods. But the whole area is so small that such differences 
can be of little importance. The name Turfan appears to be 
modern. The Ming Annals 1 state that this city lies in the 
land of ancient Ch e-shih (or Kii-shih) called Kao Ch ang in the 
time of the Sui. This name was abolished by the T ang but 
restored by the Sung. 

The principal city now generally known as Chotscho seems 
to be identical with Kao Ch ang 2 and Idiqutshahri and is called 
by Mohammedans Apsus or Ephesus, a curious designation 
connected with an ancient sacred site renamed the Cave of the 
Seven Sleepers. Extensive literary remains have been found in 
the oasis; they include works in Sanskrit, Chinese, and various 
Iranian and Turkish idioms but also in two dialects of so-called 

1 Quoted by Bretschneider, Mediaeval Researches, n. 189. 

2 Pelliot, J.A. 1912, I. p. 579, suggests that Chotscho or Qoco is the Turkish 
equivalent of Kao Ch ang ift T ang pronunciation, the nasal being omitted. 


Tokharian. Blue-eyed, red-haired and red-bearded people are 
frequently portrayed on the walls of Turfan. 

But the early history of this people and of their civilization 
is chiefly a matter of theory. In the Han period 1 there was a 
kingdom called Kii-shih or Kiii-shih, with two capitals. It was 
destroyed in 60 B.C. by the Chinese general Cheng-Chi and eight 
small principalities were formed in its place. In the fourth and 
fifth centuries A.D. Turfan had some connection with two 
ephemeral states which arose in Kansu under the names of Hou 
Liang and Pei Liang. The former was founded by Lii-Kuang, 
the general who, as related above, took Kucha. He fell foul of 
a tribe in his territory called Chu-ch ii, described as belonging 
to the Hsiung-nu. Under their chieftain Meng-hsun, who 
devoted his later years to literature and Buddhism, this tribe 
took a good deal of territory from the Hou Liang, in Turkestan 
as well as in Kansu, and called their state Pei Liang. It was 
conquered by the Wei dynasty in 439 and two members of the 
late reigning house determined to try their fortune in Turfan 
and ruled there successively for about twenty years. An Chou, 
the second of these princes, died in 480 and his fame survives 
because nine years after his death a temple to Maitreya was 
dedicated in his honour with a long inscription in Chinese. 

Another line of Chinese rulers, bearing the family name of 
Ch iu, established themselves at Kao-ch ang in 507 and under 
the Sui dynasty one of them married a Chinese princess. Turfan 
paid due homage to the T ang dynasty on its accession but later 
it was found that tributary missions coming from the west to 
the Chinese court were stopped there and the close relations of 
its king with the western Turks inspired alarm. Accordingly it 
was destroyed by the imperial forces in 640. This is confirmed 
by the record of Hsiian Chuang. In his biography there is a 
description of his reception by the king of Kao-ch ang on his 
outward journey. But in the account of his travels written after 
his return he speaks of the city as no longer existent. 

Nevertheless the political and intellectual life of the oasis 
was not annihilated. It was conquered by the Uigurs at an 
uncertain date, but they were established there in the eighth 
and ninth centuries and about 750 their Khan adopted Manichae- 
ism as the state religion. The many manuscripts in Sogdian and 

1 Chavannes, Tou-kiue Occidentaux, p. 101. 


other Persian dialects found at Turfan show that it had an old 
and close connection with the west. It is even possible that 
Mani may have preached there himself but it does not appear 
that his teaching became influential until about 700 A.D. The 
presence of Nestorianism is also attested. Tibetan influence too 
must have affected Turfan in the eighth and ninth centuries for 
many Tibetan documents have been found there although it 
seems to have been outside the political sphere of Tibet. About 
843 this Uigur Kingdom was destroyed by the Kirghiz. 

Perhaps the massacres of Buddhist priests, clearly indicated 
by vaults filled with skeletons still wearing fragments of the 
monastic robe, occurred in this period. But Buddhism was not 
extinguished and lingered here longer than in other parts of the 
Tarim basin. Even in 1420 the people of Turfan were Buddhists 
and the Ming Annals say that at Huo-chou (or Kara-Khojo) 
there were more Buddhist temples than dwelling houses. 

Let us now turn to Khotan 1 . This was the ancient as well as 
the modern name of the principal city in the southern part of 
the Tarim basin but was modified in Chinese to Yii-t ien, in 
Sanskrit to Kustana 2 . The Tibetan equivalent is Li-yul, the land 
of Li, but no explanation of this designation is forthcoming. 

Traditions respecting the origin of Khotan are preserved in 
the travels of Hsiian Chuang and also in the Tibetan scriptures, 
some of which are expressly said to be translations from the 
language of Li. These traditions are popular legends but they 
agree in essentials and appear to contain a kernel of important 
truth namely that Khotan was founded by two streams of 
colonization coming from China and from India 3 , the latter being 
somehow connected with Asoka. It is remarkable that the 
introduction of Buddhism is attributed not to these original 
colonists but to a later missionary who, according to Hsiian 
Chuang, came from Kashmir 4 . 

\ For the history of Khotan see Remusat, Ville de Khotan, 1820, and Stein s 
great work Ancient Khotan, especially chapter vn. For the Tibetan traditions see 
Rockhill, Life of the Buddha, pp. 230 ff. 

a Ku-stana seems to have been a learned perversion of the name, to make it 
mean breast of the earth. 

3 The combination is illustrated by the Sino-Kharoshthi coins with a legend in 
Chinese on the obverse and in Prakrit on the reverse. See Stein, Ancient Khotan t 
p. 204. But the coins are later than 73 A.D. 

4 The Tibetan text gives the date of conversion as the reign of King Vijayasam- 
bhava, 170 years after the foundation of Khotan. 


This traditional connection with India is confirmed by the 
discovery of numerous documents written in Kharoshthi 
characters and a Prakrit dialect. Their contents indicate that 
this Prakrit was the language of common life and they were 
found in one heap with Chinese documents dated 269 A.D. The 
presence of this alphabet and language is not adequately ex 
plained by the activity of Buddhist missionaries for in Khotan, 
as in other parts of Asia, the concomitants of Buddhism are 
Sanskrit and the Brahmi alphabet. 

There was also Iranian influence in Khotan. It shows itself 
in art and has left indubitable traces in the language called by 
some Nordarisch, but when the speakers of that language reached 
the oasis or what part they played there, we do not yet know. 

As a consequence of Chang Ch ien s mission mentioned above, 
Khotan sent an Embassy to the Chinese Court in the reign of 
Wu-ti (140-87 B.C.) and the T ang Annals state that its kings 
handed down the insignia of Imperial investiture from that time 
onwards. There seems however to have been a dynastic revolu 
tion about 60 A.D. and it is possible that the Vijaya line of 
kings, mentioned in various Tibetan works, then began to reign 1 . 
Khotan became a powerful state but submitted to the conquering 
arms of Pan-Ch ao and perhaps was subsequently subdued by 
Kanishka. As the later Han dynasty declined, it again became 
strong but continued to send embassies to the Imperial Court. 
There is nothing more to mention until the visit of Fa-Hsien in 
400. He describes "the pleasant and prosperous kingdom " with 
evident gusto. There were some tens of thousands of monks 
mostly foUowers of the Mahayana and in the country, where the 
homes of the people were scattered "like stars " about the oases, 
each house had a small stupa before the door. He stopped in 
a well ordered convent with 3000 monks and mentions a 
magnificent establishment called The King s New Monastery. 
He also describes a great car festival which shows the Indian 
colour of Khotanese religion. Perhaps Fa-Hsien and Hsiian 
Chuang unduly emphasize ecclesiastical features, but they also 
did not hesitate to say when they thought things unsatisfactory 
and their praise shows that Buddhism was flourishing. 

In the fifth and sixth centuries Khotan passed through 
troublous times and was attacked by the Tanguts, Juan-Juan 

1 See Sten Konow in J.R.A.S. 1914, p. 345. 


and White Huns. Throughout this stormy period missions were 
sent at intervals to China to beg for help. The pilgrim Sung Ytin 1 
traversed the oasis in 519. His account of the numerous banners 
bearing Chinese inscriptions hung up in the temple of Han-mo 
proves that though the political influence of China was weak, 
she was still in touch with the Tarim basin. 

When the T ang effectively asserted their suzerainty in 
Central Asia, Khotan was included in the Four Garrisons. The 
T ang Annals while repeating much which is found in earlier 
accounts, add some points of interest, for they say that the 
Khotanese revere the God of Heaven (Hsien shen) and also the 
Law of Buddha 2 . This undoubtedly means that there were 
Zoroastrians as well as Buddhists, which is not mentioned in 
earlier periods. The annals also mention that the king s house 
was decorated with pictures and that his family name was Wei 
Ch ih. This may possibly be a Chinese rendering of Vijaya, the 
Sanskrit name or title which according to Tibetan sources was 
borne by all the sovereigns of Khotan. 

Hsiian Chuang broke his return journey at Khotan in 644. 
He mentions the fondness of the people for music and says 
that their language differed from that of other countries. The 
Mahayana was the prevalent sect but the pilgrim stopped in a 
monastery of the Sarvastivadins 3 . He describes several sites in 
the neighbourhood, particularly the Gosringa or Cow-horn 
mountain 4 , supposed to have been visited by the Buddha. 
Though he does not mention Zoroastrians, he notices that the 
people of P i-mo near Khotan were not Buddhists. 

About 674 the king of Khotan did personal homage at the 
Chinese Court. The Emperor constituted his territory into a 
government called P i-sha after the deity P i-sha-men or 
Vaisravana and made him responsible for its administration. 
Another king did homage between 742 and 755 and received an 
imperial princess as his consort. Chinese political influence was 
effective until the last decade of the eighth century but after 
790 the conquests of the Tibetans put an end to it and there is 

1 See Stein, Ancient Khotan, pp. 170, 456. 

2 Chavannes, Tou-kiue, p. 125, cf. pp. 121 and 170. For Hsicn shen see Giles s 
Chinese Diet. No. 4477. 

3 Beal, Life, p. 205. 

4 Identified by Stein with Kohmari Hill which is still revered by Mohammedans 
as a sacred spot. 


no mention of Khotan in the Chinese Annals for about 150 years. 
Numerous Tibetan manuscripts and inscriptions found at Endere 
testify to these conquests. The rule of the Uigurs who replaced 
Tibet as the dominant power in Turf an and the northern Tarim 
basin does not appear to have extended to Khotan. 

It is not till 938 that we hear of renewed diplomatic relations 
with China. The Imperial Court received an embassy from 
Khotan and deemed it of sufficient importance to despatch a 
special mission in return. Eight other embassies were sent to 
China in the tenth century and at least three of them were 
accompanied by Buddhist priests. Their object was probably to 
solicit help against the attacks of Mohammedans. No details 
are known as to the Mohammedan conquest but it apparently 
took place between 970 and 1009 after a long struggle. 

Another cultural centre of the Tarim basin must have existed 
in the oases near Lob-nor where Miran and a nameless site to 
the north of the lake have been investigated by Stein. They 
have yielded numerous Tibetan documents, but also fine remains 
of Gandharan art and Prakrit documents written in the Kharo- 
shthi character. Probably the use of this language and alphabet 
was not common further east, for though a Kharoshthi fragment 
was found by Stein in an old Chinese frontier post 1 the library 
of Tun-huang yielded no specimens of them. That library, how 
ever, dating apparently from the epoch of the T ang, contained 
some Sanskrit Buddhist literature and was rich in Sogdian, 
Turkish, and Tibetan manuscripts. 

Ample as are the materials for the study of Buddhism in 
Central Asia those hitherto published throw little light on the 
time and manner of its introduction. At present much is 
hypothetical for we have few historical data such as the career 
of Kumarajiva and the inscription on the Temple of Maitreya 
at Turfan but a great mass of literary and artistic evidence 
from which various deductions can be drawn. 

It is clear that there was constant intercourse with India and 
the Oxus region. The use of Prakrit and of various Iranian 
idioms points to actual colonization from these two quarters and 

1 Desert Cathay, n. p. 114. 


it is probable that there were two streams of Buddhism, for the 
Chinese pilgrims agree that Shan-shan (near Lob-nor), Turfan, 
Kucha and Kashgar were Hinayanist, whereas Yarkand and 
Khotan were Mahayanist. Further, much of the architecture, 
sculpture and painting is simply Gandharan and the older 
specimens can hardly be separated from the Gandharan art of 
India by any considerable interval. This art was in part coeval 
with Kanishka, and if his reign began in 78 A. D. or later the first 
specimens of it cannot be much anterior to the Christian era. The 
earliest Chinese notices of the existence of Buddhism in Kashgar 
and Kucha date from 400 (Fa-Hsien) and the third century 
(Annals of the Tsin, 265-317) respectively, but they speak of it 
as the national religion and munificently endowed, so that it 
may well have been established for some centuries. In Turfan 
the first definite record is the dedication of a temple to Maitreya 
in 469 but probably the history of religion there was much the 
same as in Kucha. 

It is only in Khotan that tradition, if not history, gives a 
more detailed narrative. This is found in the works of the Chinese 
pilgrims Hsiian Chuang and Sung Yiin and also in four Tibetan 
works which are apparently translated from the language of 
Khotan 1 . As the story is substantially the same in all, it merits 
consideration and may be accepted as the account current in 
the literary circles of Khotan about 500 A.D. It relates that the 
Indians who were part-founders of that city in the reign of 
Asoka were not Buddhists 2 arid the Tibetan version places the 
conversion with great apparent accuracy 170 years after the 
foundation of the kingdom and 404 after the death of the 
Buddha. At that time a monk named Vairocana, who was an 
incarnation of Manjusri, came to Khotan, according to Hsiian 
Chuang from Kashmir 3 . He is said to have introduced a new 
language as well as Mahayanism, and the king, Vijayasambhava, 
built for him the great monastery of Tsarma outside the capital, 
which was miraculously supplied with relics. We cannot be sure 

1 See Walters, Yilan Chwang, n. p. 296. Seal, Life. p. 205. Chavannes, "Voyage 
de Sung Yun." B.E.F.E.O. 1903, 395, and for the Tibetan sources, Rockhill, Life 
of the Buddha, chap. vin. One of the four Tibetan works is expressly stated to be 
translated from Khotanese. 

2 The Tibetan Chronicles of Li-Yul say that they worshipped Vais"ravana and 

3 A monk from Kashmir called Vairocana was also active in Tibet about 750 A.D. 


that the Tibetan dates were intended to have the meaning they 
would bear for our chronology, that is about 80 B.C., but if they 
had, there is nothing improbable in the story, for other traditions 
assert that Buddhism was preached in Kashmir in the time of 
Asoka. On the other hand, there was a dynastic change in 
Khotan about 60 A.D. and the monarch who then came to the 
throne may have been Vijayasambhava. 

According to the Tibetan account no more monasteries were 
built for seven reigns. The eighth king built two, one on the 
celebrated Gosirsha or Gosringa mountain. In the eleventh reign 
after Vijayasambhava, more chaityas and viharas were built in 
connection with the introduction of the silkworm industry. 
Subsequently, but without any clear indication of date, the 
introduction of the Mahasanghika and Sarvastivadin schools is 

The Tibetan annals also mention several persecutions of 
Buddhism in Khotan as a result of which the monks fled to 
Tibet and Bruzha. Their chronology is confused but seems to 
make these troubles coincide with a persecution in Tibet, 
presumably that of Lang-dar-ma. If so, the persecution in 
Khotan must have been due to the early attacks of Moham 
medans which preceded the final conquest in about 1000 A.D. 1 

Neither the statements of the Chinese annalists about Central 
Asia nor its own traditions prove that Buddhism flourished there 
before the Christian era. But they do not disprove it and even 
if the dream of the Emperor Ming-Ti and the consequent 
embassy are dismissed as legends, it is admitted that Buddhism 
penetrated to China by land not later than the early decades of 
that era. It must therefore have been known in Central Asia 
previously and perhaps Khotan was the place where it first 

It is fairly certain that about 160 B.C. the Yiieh-chih moved 
westwards and settled in the lands of the Oxus after ejecting 
the Sakas, but like many warlike nomads they may have oscil 
lated between the east and west, recoiling if they struck against 
a powerful adversary in either quarter. Le Coq has put forward 
an interesting theory of their origin. It is that they were one 
of the tribes known as Scythians in Europe and at an unknown 

1 It is also possible that Buddhism had a bad time in the fifth and sixth centuries 
at the hands of the Tanguts, Juan- Juan and White Huns. 


period moved eastwards from southern Russia, perhaps leaving 
traces of their presence in the monuments still existing in the 
district of Minussinsk. He also identifies them with the red- 
haired, blue-eyed people of the Chotscho frescoes and the 
speakers of the Tokharian language. But these interesting 
hypotheses cannot be regarded as proved. It is, however, certain 
that the Yiieh-chih invaded India 1 , founded the Kushan Empire 
and were intimately connected (especially in the person of their 
great king Kanishka) with Gandharan art and the form of 
Buddhism which finds expression in it. Now the Chinese 
pilgrim Fa-Hsien (c. 400) found the Hinayana prevalent in 
Shan-shan, Kucha, Kashgar, Osh, Udyana and Gandhara. 
Hsiian Chuang also notes its presence in Balkh, Bamian, and 
Persia. Both notice that the Mahayana was predominant in 
Khotan though not to the exclusion of the other school. It 
would appear that in modern language the North- West Frontier 
province of India, Afghanistan, Badakshan (with small adjoining 
states), the Pamir regions and the Tarim basin all accepted 
Gandharan Buddhism and at one time formed part of the 
Kushan Empire. 

It is probably to this Gandharan Buddhism that the Chinese 
pilgrims refer when they speak of the Sarvastivadin school of 
the Hinayana as prevalent. It is known that this school was 
closely connected with the Council of Kanishka. Its meta 
physics were decidedly not Mahayanist but there is no reason 
why it should have objected to the veneration of such Bodhisat- 
tvas as are portrayed in the Gandhara sculptures. An interesting 
passage in the life of Hsiian Chuang relates that he had a dispute 
in Kucha with a Mahayanist doctor who maintained that the 
books called Tsa-hsin, Chii-she, and P i-sha were sufficient for 
salvation, and denounced the Yogasastra as heretical, to the 
great indignation of the pilgrim 2 whose practical definition of 
Mahayanism seems to have been the acceptance of this work, 

1 The Later Han Annals say that the Hindus are weaker than the Yiieh-chih 
and are not accustomed to fight because they are Buddhists. (See T oung Poo, 1910, 
p. 192.) This seems to imply that the Yiieh-chih were not Buddhists. But even 
this was the real view of the compiler of the Annals we do not know from what 
work he took this statement nor to what date it refers. 

a See Beal, Life, p. 39, Julien, p. 50. The books mentioned are apparently the 
Samyuktabhidharmahridaya (Nanjio, 1287), Abhidharma Kosha (Nanjio, 1267), 
Abhidharma-Vibhasha (Nanjio, 1264) and Yogacaryabhumi (Nanjio, 1170). 


reputed to have been revealed by Maitreya to Asanga. Such a 
definition and division might leave in the Hinayana much that 
we should not expect to find there. 

The Mahayanist Buddhism of Khotan was a separate stream 
and Hsiian Chuang says that it came from Kashmir. Though 
Kashmir is not known as a centre of Mahay anism, yet it would 
be a natural route for men and ideas passing from any part of 
India to Khotan. 


The Tarim basin and the lands of the Oxus 1 were a region 
where different religions and cultures mingled and there is no 
difficulty in supposing that Buddhism might have amalgamated 
there with Zoroastrianism or Christianity. The question is 
whether there is any evidence for such amalgamation. It is 
above all in its relations with China that Central Asia appears 
as an exchange of religions. It passed on to China the art and 
thought of India, perhaps adding something of its own on the 
way and then received them back from China with further 
additions 2 . It certainly received a great deal from Persia: the 
number of manuscripts in different Iranian languages puts this 
beyond doubt. Equally undoubted is its debt to India, but it 
would be of even greater interest to determine whether Indian 
Buddhism owes a debt to Central Asia and to define that debt. 
For Tibet the relation was mutual. The Tibetans occupied the 
Tarim basin during a century and according to their traditions 
monks went from Khotan to instruct Tibet. 

The Buddhist literature discovered in Central Asia represents, 
like its architecture, several periods. We have first of all the 
fragments of the Sanskrit Agamas, found at Turfan, Tun-huang, 
and in the Khotan district : fragments of the dramas and poems 
of Asvaghosha from Turfan : the Pratimoksha of the Sarvasti- 
vadins from Kucha and numerous versions of the anthology 
called Dharmapada or Udana. The most interesting of these is 
the Prakrit version found in the neighbourhood of Khotan, but 
fragments in Tokharian and Sanskrit have also been discovered. 

1 The importance of the Tarim basin is due to the excellent preservation of its 
records and its close connection with China. The Oxus regions suffered more from 
Mohammedan iconoclasm, but they may have been at least equally important for 
the history of Buddhism. 

2 E.g. see the Maitreya inscription of Turfan. 


All this literature probably represents the canon as it existed in 
the epoch of Kanishka and of the Gandharan sculptures, or at 
least the older stratum in that canon. 

The newer stratum is composed of Mahayanist sutras of 
which there is a great abundance, though no complete list has 
been published 1 . The popularity of the Prajna-paramita, the 
Lotus and the Suvarna-prabhasa is attested. The last was 
translated into both Uigur (from the Chinese) and into "Iranien 
Oriental." To a still later epoch 2 belong the Dharanis or magical 
formulae which have been discovered in considerable quantities. 

Sylvain LeVi has shown that some Mahayanist sutras were 
either written or re-edited in Central Asia 3 . Not only do they 
contain lists of Central Asian place-names but these receive an 
importance which can be explained only by the local patriotism 
of the writer or the public which he addressed. Thus the Surya- 
garbha sutra praises the mountain of Gosringa near Khotan 
much as the Puranas celebrate in special chapters called 
Mahatmyas the merits of some holy place. Even more remark 
able is a list in the Chandragarbha sutra. The Buddha in one of 
the great transformation scenes common in these works sends 
forth rays of light which produce innumerable manifestations of 
Buddhas. India (together with what is called the western region) 
has a total of 813 manifestations, whereas Central Asia and China 
have 971. Of these the whole Chinese Empire has 255, the 
kingdoms of Khotan and Kucha have 180 and 99 respectively, 
but only 60 are given to Benares and 30 to Magadha. Clearly 
Central Asia was a very important place for the author of this 
list 4 . 

One of the Turkish sutras discovered at Turfan contains a 
discourse of the Buddha to the merchants Trapusha and Bhallika 
who are described as Turks and Indra is called Kormusta, that 
is Hormuzd. In another Brahma is called Asrua, identified as 
the Iranian deity Zervan 5 . In these instances no innovation of 
doctrine is implied but when the world of spirits and men 

1 Or at least is not accessible to me here in Hongkong, 1914. 

2 I do not mean to say that all Dharanis are late. 

8 It is even probable that apocryphal Sutras were composed in Central Asia. 
See Pelliot in Melanges d* Indianisme, Sylvain Levi, p. 329. 

4 The list of manifestations in Jambudvipa enumerates 56 kingdoms. All cannot 
be identified with certainty, but apparently less than half are within India proper 

8 See Bibl Budd. xn. pp. 44, 46, xiv. p. 45. 


becomes Central Asian instead of Indian, it is only natural that 
the doctrine too should take on some local colour 1 . 

Thus the dated inscription of the temple erected in Turfan 
A.D. 469 is a mixture of Chinese ideas, both Confucian and 
Taoist, with Indian. It is in honour of Maitreya, a Bodhisattva 
known to the Hinayana, but here regarded not merely as the 
future Buddha but as an active and benevolent deity who 
manifests himself in many forms 2 , a view which also finds 
expression in the tradition that the works of Asanga were 
revelations made by him. Akasagarbha and the Dharmakaya 
are mentioned. But the inscription also speaks of heaven (t ien) 
as appointing princes, and of the universal law (tao) and it 
contains several references to Chinese literature. 

Even more remarkable is the admixture of Buddhism in 
Manicheeism. The discoveries made in Central Asia make 
intelligible the Chinese edict of 739 which accuses the Mani- 
chseans of falsely taking the name of Buddhism and deceiving 
the people 3 . This is not surprising for Mani seems to have taught 
that Zoroaster, Buddha and Christ had preceded him as 
apostles, and in Buddhist countries his followers naturally 
adopted words and symbols familiar to the people. Thus 
Manichsean deities are represented like Bodlu sattvas sitting 
cross-legged on a lotus; Mani receives the epithet Ju-lai or 
Tathagata : as in Amida s Paradise, there are holy trees bearing 
flowers which enclose beings styled Buddha: the construction 
and phraseology of Manichsean books resemble those of a 
Buddhist Sutra 4 . In some ways the association of Taoism and 
Manichseism was even closer, for the Hu-hua-ching identifies 
Buddha with Lao-tzu and Mani, and two Manichaean books have 
passed into the Taoist Canon 6 . 

1 The Turkish sutras repeatedly style the Buddha God (t angri) or God of Gods. 
The expression devatideva is applied to him in Sanskrit, but the Turkish phrases 
are more decided and frequent. The Sanskrit phrase may even be due to Iranian 

2 An Chou, the Prince to whose memory the temple was dedicated, seems to 
be regarded as a manifestation of Maitreya. 

3 J.A. 1913, i. p. 154. The series of three articles by Chavannes and Pelliot 
entitled "Un traite Manicheen retrouve en Chine" (J.A. 1911, 1913) is a most 
valuable contribution to our knowledge of Manichseism in Central Asia and China. 

4 E.g. see J.A. 1911, pp. 509 and 589. See also Le Coq, Sitzb. preuss. Akad. der 
Wiss. 48, 1909, 1202-1218. 

6 J.A. 1913, i. pp. 116 and 132. 


Nestorian Christianity also existed in the Tarim basin and 
became prominent in the seventh century. This agrees with the 
record of its introduction into China by A-lo-pen in 635 A.D., 
almost simultaneously with Zoroastrianism. Fragments of the 
New Testament have been found at Turfan belonging mostly 
to the ninth century but one to the fifth. The most interesting 
document for the history of Nestorianism is still the monument 
discovered at Si-ngan-fu and commonly called the Nestorian 
stone 1 . It bears a long inscription partly in Chinese and partly 
in Syriac composed by a foreign priest called Adam or in Chinese 
King-Tsing giving a long account of the doctrines and history 
of Nestorianism. Not only does this inscription contain many 
Buddhist phrases (such as Seng and Ssu for Christian priests 
and monasteries) but it deliberately omits all mention of the 
crucifixion and merely says in speaking of the creation that God 
arranged the cardinal points in the shape of a cross. This can 
hardly be explained as due to incomplete statement for it reviews 
in some detail the life of Christ and its results. The motive of 
omission must be the feeling that redemption by his death was 
not an acceptable doctrine 2 . It is interesting to find that King- 
Tsing consorted with Buddhist priests and even set about 
translating a sutra from the Hu language. Takakusu quotes a 
passage from one of the catalogues of the Japanese Tripitaka 3 
which states that he was a Persian and collaborated with a monk 
of Kapisa called Prajfia. 

We have thus clear evidence not only of the co-existence of 
Buddhism and Christianity but of friendly relations between 
Buddhist and Christian priests. The Emperor s objection to such 
commixture of religions was unusual and probably due to zeal 
for pure Buddhism. It is possible that in western China and 
Central Asia Buddhism, Taoism, Manichseism, Nestorianism and 
Zoroastrianism all borrowed from one another just as the first 
two do in China to-day and Buddhism may have become 
modified by this contact. But proof of it is necessary. In most 
places Buddhism was in strength and numbers the most im- 

1 See especially Havret, "La stele chre"tienne de Si-ngan-fu" in Varietcs Sino 
logues, pp. 7, 12 and 20. 

8 See Havret, I.e. in. p. 54, for some interesting remarks respecting the unwilling 
ness of the Nestorians and also of the Jesuits to give publicity to the crucifixion. 

8 See Takakusu, I-tsing, pp. 169, 223, and Toung Pao, 1896, p. 689. 


portant of all these religions and older than all except Zoroas- 
trianism. Its contact with Manichseism may possibly date from 
the life of Mani,but apparently the earliest Christian manuscripts 
found in Central Asia are to be assigned to the fifth century. 

On the other hand the Chinese Tripitaka contains many 
translations which bear an earlier date than this and are 
ascribed to translators connected with the Yueh-chih. I see no 
reason to doubt the statements that the Happy Land sutra and 
Prajna-paramita (Nanjio, 25, 5) were translated before 200 A.D. 
and portions of the Avatamsaka and Lotus (Nanjio, 100, 103, 
138) before 300 A.D. But if so, the principal doctrines of 
Mahayanist Buddhism must have been known in Khotan 1 and 
the lands of Oxus before we have definite evidence for the 
presence of Christianity there. 

Zoroastrianism may however have contributed to the de 
velopment and transformation of Buddhism for the two were 
certainly in contact. Thus the coins of Kanishka bear figures of 
Persian deities 2 more frequently than images of the Buddha: 
we know from Chinese sources that the two religions co-existed 
at Khotan and Kashgar and possibly there are hostile references 
to Buddhism (Buiti and Gaotema the heretic) in the Persian 
scriptures 8 . 

It is true that we should be cautious in fancying that we 
detect a foreign origin for the Mahayana. Different as it may 
be from the Buddhism of the Pali Canon, it is an Indian not an 
exotic growth. Deification, pantheism, the creation of radiant 
or terrible deities, extreme forms of idealism or nihilism in 
metaphysics are tendencies manifested in Hinduism as clearly 
as in Buddhism. Even the doctrine of the Buddha s three 
bodies, which sounds like an imitation of the Christian Trinity, 
has roots in the centuries before the Christian era. But late 
Buddhism indubitably borrowed many personages from the 
Hindu pantheon, and when we find Buddhas and Bodhisattvas 
such as Amitabha, Avalokita, Manjusri and Kshitigarbha with 
out clear antecedents in India we may suspect that they are 
borrowed from some other mythology, and if similar figures 
were known to Zoroastrianism, that may be their source. 

1 Turfan and Kucha are spoken of as being mainly Hinayanist. 

a See Stein, Zoroastrian deities on I ndo- Scythian coins, 1887. 

8 See 8,B.E. iv. (Vendidad) pp. 145, 209; xxm. p. 184, v. p. in. 


The most important of them is Amitabha. He is strangely 
obscure in the earlier art and literature of Indian Buddhism. 
Some of the nameless Buddha figures in the Gandharan sculp 
tures may represent him, but this is not proved and the works 
of Griinwedel and Foucher suggest that compared with Avalokita 
and Tara his images are late and not numerous. In the earlier 
part of the Lotus 1 he is only just mentioned as if he were of no 
special importance. He is also mentioned towards the end of 
the Awakening of Faith ascribed to Asvaghosha, but the author 
ship of the work cannot be regarded as certain and, if it were, 
the passage stands apart from the main argument and might 
well be an addition. Again in the Mahayana-sutralankara 2 of 
Asanga, his paradise is just mentioned. 

Against these meagre and cursory notices in Indian literature 
may be set the fact that two translations of the principal 
Amidist scripture into Chinese were made in the second century 
A.D. and four in the third, all by natives of Central Asia. The 
inference that the worship of Amitabha flourished in Central 
Asia some time before the earliest of these translations is 

According to Taranatha, the Tibetan historian of Buddhism 3 , 
this worship goes back to Saraha or Rahulabhadra. He was 
reputed to have been the teacher of Nagarjuna and a great 
magician. He saw Amitabha in the land of Dhingkota and died 
with his face turned towards Sukhavati. I have found no 
explanation of the name Dhingkota but the name Saraha does 
not sound Indian. He is said to have been a sudra and he is 
represented in Tibetan pictures with a beard and topknot and 
holding an arrow 4 in his hand. In all this there is little that 
can be called history, but still it appears that the first person 
whom tradition connects with the worship of Amitabha was 
of low caste, bore a foreign name, saw the deity in an unknown 
country, and like many tantric teachers was represented as 
totally unlike a Buddhist monk. It cannot be proved that he 
came from the lands of the Oxus or Turkestan, but such an 

1 Chap. vii. The notices in Chaps, xxn. and xxiv. are rather more detailed but 
also later. 

2 xn. p. 23. 

3 Transl. Schiefner, pp. 93, 105 and 303, and Pander s Pantheon, No. 11. But 
Taranatha also says that he was Aryadeva s pupil. 

4 Sara in Sanskrit. 

E. m. 15 


origin would explain much in the tradition. On the other hand, 
there would be no difficulty in accounting for Zoroastrian 
influence at Peshawar or Takkasila within the frontiers of India. 

Somewhat later Vasubandhu is stated to have preached faith 
in Amitabha but it does not appear that this doctrine ever had 
in India a tithe of the importance which it obtained in the Far 

The essential features of Amidist doctrine are that there is 
a paradise of light belonging to a benevolent deity and that 
the good 1 who invoke his name will be led thither. Both 
features are found in Zoroastrian writings. The highest heaven 
(following after the paradises of good thoughts, good words and 
good deeds) is called Boundless Light or Endless Light 2 . Both 
this region and its master, Ahuramazda, are habitually spoken 
of in terms implying radiance and glory. Also it is a land of 
song, just as Amitabha s paradise re-echoes with music and 
pleasant sounds 3 . Prayers can win this paradise and Ahura 
Mazda and the Archangels will come and show the way thither 
to the pious 4 . Further whoever recites the Ahuna-vairya 
formula, Ahura Mazda will bring his soul to "the lights of 
heaven 5 ," and although, so far as I know, it is not expressly 
stated that the repetition of Ahura Mazda s name leads to 
paradise, yet the general efficacy of his names as invocations is 
clearly affirmed 6 . 

Thus all the chief features of Amitabha s paradise are 
Persian: only his method of instituting it by making a vow is 
Buddhist. It is true that Indian imagination had conceived 
numerous paradises, and that the early Buddhist legend tells of 
the Tushita heaven. But Sukhavati is not like these abodes of 
bliss. It appears suddenly in the history of Buddhism as some 
thing exotic, grafted adroitly on the parent trunk but sometimes 
overgrowing it 7 . 

1 The doctrine of salvation by faith alone seems to be later. The longer and 
apparently older version of the Sukhavati Vyuha insists on good works as a con 
dition of entry into Paradise. 

2 S.B.E. iv. p. 293; ib. xxxra. pp. 317 and 344. 

3 It may also be noticed that Ameretat, the Archangel of immortality, presides 
over vegetation and that Amida s paradise is full of flowers. 

4 S.B.E. xxm. pp. 335-7. 5 S.B.E. xxxi. p. 261. 
8 S.B.E. xxm. pp. 21-31 (the Ormasd Yasht). 

7 Is it possible that there is any connection between Sukhavati and the land of 
Saukavastan, governed by an immortal ruler and located by the Bundehish between 


Avalokita is also connected with Amitabha s paradise. His 
figure, though its origin is not clear, assumes distinct and con 
spicuous proportions in India at a fairly early date. There 
appears to be no reason for associating him specially with 
Central Asia. On the other hand later works describe him as 
the spiritual son or reflex of Amitabha. This certainly recalls 
the Iranian idea of the Fravashi defined as "a spiritual being 
conceived as a part of a man s personality but existing before 
he is born and in independence of him: it can also belong to 
divine beings 1 ." Although India offers in abundance both divine 
incarnations and explanations thereof yet none of these describe 
the relationship between a Dhyani Buddha and his Boddhisattva 
so well as the Zoroastrian doctrine of the Fravashi. 

S. L6vi has suggested that the Bodhisattva Manjusri is of 
Tokharian origin 2 . His worship at Wu-tai-shan in Shan-si is 
ancient and later Indian tradition connected him with China. 
Local traditions also connect him with Nepal, Tibet, and Khotan, 
and he is sometimes represented as the first teacher of civili 
zation or religion. But although his Central Asian origin is 
eminently probable, I do not at present see any clear proof of it. 

The case of the Bodhisattva Kshitigarbha 3 is similar. He 
appears to have been known but not prominent in India in the 
fourth century A.D.: by the seventh century if not earlier his 
cult was flourishing in China and subsequently he became in 
the Far East a popular deity second only to Kuan-yin. This 
popularity was connected with his gradual transformation into 
a god of the dead. It is also certain that he was known in Central 
Asia 4 but whether he first became important there or in China 
is hard to decide. The devotion of the Chinese to their dead 
suggests that it was among them that he acquired his great 
position, but his role as a guide to the next world has a parallel 
in the similar benevolent activity of the Zoroastrian angel Srosh. 

Turkistan and Chinistan? I imagine there is no etymological relationship, but if 
Saukavastan was well known as a land of the blessed it may have influenced the 
choice of a significant Sanskrit word with a similar sound. 

1 E.R.E. sub voce. 

2 J.A. 1912, i. p. 622. Unfortunately only a brief notice of his communication 
is given with no details. See also S. Levi, Le Ntpdl, pp. 330 ff. 

8 Ti-tsang in Chinese, Jizo in Japanese. See for his history Visser s elaborate 
articles in Ostasiatische Ztsft. 1913-1915. 

4 He was accepted by the Manichseans as one of the Envoys of Light. J.A. 
1911, n. p. 549. 


One of Central Asia s clearest titles to importance in the 
history of the East is that it was the earliest and on the whole 
the principal source of Chinese Buddhism, to which I now turn. 
Somewhat later, teachers also came to China by sea and still 
later, under the Yuan dynasty, Lamaism was introduced direct 
from Tibet. But from at least the beginning of our era onwards, 
monks went eastwards from Central Asia to preach and translate 
the scriptures and it was across Central Asia that Chinese 
pilgrims went to India in search of the truth. 


Prefatory note. 

FOB the transcription of Chinese words I use the modern Peking 
pronunciation as represented in Giles s Dictionary. It may be justly 
objected that of all dialects Pekingese is perhaps the furthest removed 
from ancient Chinese and therefore unsuited for historical studies 
and also that Wade s system of transcription employed by Giles is 
open to serious criticism. But, on the other hand, I am not competent 
to write according to the pronunciation of Nanking or Canton all 
the names which appear in these chapters and, if I were, it would 
not be a convenience to my readers. Almost all English works of 
reference about China use the forms registered in Giles s Dictionary 
or near approximations to them, and any variation would produce 
difficulty and confusion. French and German methods of transcribing 
Chinese differ widely from Wade s and unfortunately there seems to 
be no prospect of sinologues agreeing on any international system. 


THE study of Chinese Buddhism is interesting but difficult 1 . 
Here more than in other Asiatic countries we feel that the words 
and phrases natural to a European language fail to render justly 
the elementary forms of thought, the simplest relationships. 
But Europeans are prone to exaggerate the mysterious, topsy 
turvy character of the Chinese mind. Such epithets are based 
on the assumption that human thought and conduct normally 
conform to reason and logic, and that when such conformity is 
wanting the result must be strange and hardly human, or at 
least such as no respectable European could expect or approve. 
But the assumption is wrong. In no country with which I am 

1 For Chinese Buddhism see especially Johnston, Chinese Buddhism, 1913 (cited 
as Johnston). Much information about the popular side of Buddhism and Taoism 
may be found in Recherches sur les superstitions en Chine par le Pere Henri Dore, 
10 vols. 1911-1916, Shanghai (cited as Dore). 


acquainted are logic and co-ordination of ideas more wanting 
than in the British Isles. This is not altogether a fault, for human 
systems are imperfect and the rigorous application of any one 
imperfect system must end in disaster. But the student of 
Asiatic psychology must begin his task by recognising that in 
the West and East alike, the thoughts of nations, though not 
always of individuals, are a confused mosaic where the pattern 
has been lost and a thousand fancies esteemed at one time or 
another as pleasing, useful or respectable are crowded into the 
available space. This is especially true in the matter of religion. 
An observer fresh to the subject might find it hard to formulate 
the relations to one another and to the Crown of the various 
forms of Christianity prevalent in our Empire or to understand 
how the English Church can be one body, when some sections 
of it are hardly distinguishable from Roman Catholicism and 
others from non-conformist sects. In the same way Chinese 
religion offers startling combinations of incongruous rites and 
doctrines: the attitude of the laity and of the government to 
the different churches is not to be defined in ordinary European 
terms and yet if one examines the practice of Europe, it will 
often throw light on the oddities of China. 

The difficulty of finding a satisfactory equivalent in Chinese 
for the word God is well known and has caused much discussion 
among missionaries. Confucius inherited and handed on a 
worship of Heaven which inspired some noble sayings and may 
be admitted to be monotheism. But it was a singularly im 
personal monotheism and had little to do with popular religion, 
being regarded as the prerogative and special cult of the Em 
peror. The people selected their deities from a numerous 
pantheon of spirits, falling into many classes among which two 
stand out clearly, namely, nature spirits and spirits of ancestors. 
All these deities, as we must call them for want of a better word, 
present odd features, which have had some influence on Chinese 
Buddhism. The boundary between the human and the spirit 
worlds is slight. Deification and euhemerism are equally 
natural to the Chinese. Not only are worthies of every sort 
made into gods 1 , but foreign deities are explained on the same 

1 A curious instance of deification is mentioned in Musdon, 1914, p. 61. It 
appears that several deceased Jesuits have been deified. For a recent instance of 
deification in 1913 see Dore, x. p. 753. 


principle. Thus Yen-lo (Yama), the king of the dead, is said to 
have been a Chinese official of the sixth century A.D. But there 
is little mythology. The deities are like the figures on porcelain 
vases: all know their appearance and some their names, but 
hardly anyone can give a coherent account of them. A poly- 
daemonism of this kind is even more fluid than Hinduism : you 
may invent any god you like and neglect gods that don t concern 
you. The habit of mind which produces sects in India, namely 
the desire to exalt one s own deity above others and make him the 
All-God, does not exist. No Chinese god inspires such feelings. 

The deities of medieval and modern China, including the 
spirits recognized by Chinese Buddhism, are curiously mixed 
and vague personalities 1 . Nature worship is not absent, but it 
is nature as seen by the fancy of the alchemist and astrologer. 
The powers that control nature are also identified with ancient 
heroes, but they are mostly heroes of the type of St George and 
the Dragon of whom history has little to say, and Chinese respect 
for the public service and official rank takes the queer form of 
regarding these spirits as celestial functionaries. Thus the gods 
have a Ministry of Thunder which supervises the weather and 
a Board of Medicine which looks after sickness and health. 

The characteristic expression of Chinese popular religion is 
not exactly myth or legend but religious romance. A writer 
starts from some slender basis of fact and composes an edifying 
novel. Thus the well-known story called Hsi-Yu-Chi 2 purports 
to be an account of Hsiian Chuang s journey to India but, ex 
cept that it represents the hero as going there and returning 
with copies of the scriptures, it is romance pure and simple, a 

1 The spirits called San Kuan ^* It? or San Yuan ^ ."J^j are a oocl instance 
of Chinese deities. The words mean Three Agents or Principles who strictly speaking 
have no names: (a) Originally they appear to represent Heaven, Earth and Water. 
(6) Then they stand for three periods of the year and the astrological influences 
which rule each, (c) As Agents, and more or less analogous to human personalities, 
Heaven gives happiness, Earth pardons sins and Water delivers from misfortune. 
(d) They are identified with the ancient Emperors Yao, Shun, Yii. (e) They are 
also identified with three Censors under the Emperor Li-Wang, B.C. 878-841. 

2 3jSjm Hsiian Chuang s own account of his travels bears the slightly 

different title of Hsi-Yu-Chi. BlffPtftE The work noticecl here is attributed 
to Chiu Ch ang Ch un, a Taoist priest ofthe thirteenth century. It is said to be the 
Buddhist book most widely read in Korea where it is printed in the popular script. 
An abridged English translation has been published by T. Richard under the title 
of A Mission to Heaven. 


fantastic Pilgrim s Progress, the scene of which is sometimes on 
earth and sometimes in the heavens. The traveller is accom 
panied by allegorical creatures such as a magic monkey, a pig, 
and a dragon horse, who have each their own significance and 
may be seen represented in Buddhist and Taoist temples even 
to-day. So too another writer, starting from the tradition that 
Avalokita (or Kuan-Yin) was once a benevolent human being, 
set himself to write the life of Kuan-Yin, represented as a 
princess endued with every virtue who cheerfully bears cruel 
persecution for her devotion to Buddhism. It would be a 
mistake to seek in this story any facts throwing light on the 
history of Avalokita and his worship. It is a religious novel, 
important only because it still finds numerous readers. 

It is commonly said that the Chinese belong to three religions, 
Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, and the saying is not 
altogether inaccurate. Popular language speaks of the three 
creeds and an ordinary person in the course of his life may take 
part in rites which imply a belief in them all 1 . Indeed the fusion 
is so complete that one may justly talk of Chinese religion, mean 
ing the jumble of ceremonies and beliefs accepted by the average 
man. Yet at the same time it is possible to be an enthusiast 
for any one of the three without becoming unconventional. 

Of the three religions, Confucianism has a disputable claim 
to the title. If the literary classes of China find it sufficient, they 
do so only by rejecting the emotional and speculative sides of 
religion. The Emperor Wan-li 2 made a just epigram when he 
said that Confucianism and Buddhism are like the wings of a 
bird. Each requires the co-operation of the other. Confucius 
was an ethical and political philosopher, not a prophet, hiero- 
phant or church founder. As a moralist he stands in the first 
rank, and I doubt if either the Gospels or the Pitakas contain 
maxims for the life of a good citizen equal to his sayings. But 
he ignored that unworldly morality which, among Buddhists 
and Christians, is so much admired and so little practised. In 
religion he claimed no originality, he brought no revelation, but 

1 I am writing immediately after the abolition of the Imperial Government 
(1912), and what I say naturally refers to a state of things which is passing away. 
But it is too soon to say how the new regime will affect religion. There is an old 
saying that China is supported by the three religions as a tripod by three legs. 

a Jit f^f strictly speaking the title of his reign 1573-1620. 

xui] CHINA 227 

he accepted the current ideas of his age and time, though 
perhaps he eliminated many popular superstitions. He com 
mended the worship of Heaven, which, if vague, still connected 
the deity with the moral law, and he enjoined sacrifice to 
ancestors and spirits. But all this apparently without any 
theory. His definition of wisdom is well known: "to devote 
oneself to human duties and keep aloof from spirits while still 
respecting them." This is not the utterance of a sceptical states 
man, equivalent to "remember the political importance of 
religion but keep clear of it, so far as you can." The best 
commentary is the statement in the Analects that he seldom 
spoke about the will of Heaven, yet such of his utterances about 
it as have been preserved are full of awe and submission 1 . 
A certain delicacy made him unwilling to define or discuss the 
things for which he felt the highest reverence, and a similar 
detached but respectful attitude is still a living constituent 
of Chinese society. The scholar and gentleman will not engage 
in theological or metaphysical disputes, but he respectfully takes 
part in ceremonies performed in honour of such venerated names 
as Heaven, Earth and Confucius himself. Less willingly, but 
still without remonstrance, he attends Buddhist or Taoist 

If it is hard to define the religious element in Confucianism, 
it is still harder to define Taoism, but for another reason, 
namely, that the word has more than one meaning. In one 
sense it is the old popular religion of China, of which Confucius 
selected the scholarly and gentlemanly features. Taoism, on 
the contrary, rejected no godlings and no legends however 
grotesque: it gave its approval to the most extravagant and 
material superstitions, especially to the belief that physical 
immortality could be insured by drinking an elixir, which proved 
fatal to many illustrious dupes. As an organized body it owes 
its origin to Chang-Ling (c. 130 A.D.) and his grandson Chang - 
Lu 2 . The sect received its baptism of blood but made terms with 
the Chinese Government, one condition being that a member 
of the house of Chang should be recognized as its hereditary 

1 Compare Anal ix. 1 and xiv. 38. 2. See also Doctrine of the Mean, chap, xvi, 
for more positive views about spirits. 

2 SS[^ and SH fP - See De Groot > "Origins of the Taoist Church" in 
Trans. Third Congress Hist. Relig. 1908. 


Patriarch or Pope 1 . Rivalry with Buddhism also contributed 
to give Taoism something of that consistency in doctrine and 
discipline which we associate with the word religion, for in 
their desire to show that they were as good as their opponents 
the Taoists copied them in numerous and important particulars, 
for instance triads of deities, sacred books and monastic in 

The power of inventive imitation is characteristic of Taoism 2 . 
In most countries great gods are children of the popular mind. 
After long gestation and infancy they emerge as deities bound 
to humanity by a thousand ties of blood and place. But the 
Taoists, whenever they thought a new deity needful or orna 
mental, simply invented him, often with the sanction of an 
Imperial Edict. Thus Yii-Ti 3 , the precious or jade Emperor, 
who is esteemed the supreme ruler of the world, was created or 
at least brought into notice about 1012 A. D. by the Emperor 
Chen Tsung 4 who pretended to have correspondence with him. 
He is probably an adaptation of Indra and is also identified 
with a prince of ancient China, but cannot be called a popular 
hero like Rama or Krishna, and has not the same hold on the 
affections of the people. 

But Taoism is also the name commonly given not only to 
this fanciful church but also to the philosophic ideas expounded 
in the Tao-te-ching and in the works of Chuang-tzu. The Taoist 
priesthood claim this philosophy, but the two have no necessary 
connection. Taoism as philosophy represents a current of 
thought opposed to Confucianism, compared with which it is 
ascetic, mystic and pantheistic, though except in comparison 
it does not deserve such epithets. My use of pantheistic in 
particular may raise objection, but it seems to me that Tao, 
however hard to define, is analogous to Brahman, the impersonal 
Spirit of Hindu philosophy. The universe is the expression of 
Tao and in conforming to Tao man finds happiness. For Con 
fucianism, as for Europe, man is the pivot and centre of things, 

1 Chang Yiian-hsu, who held office in 1912, was deprived of his titles by the 
Republican Government. In 1914 petitions were presented for their restoration, 
but I do not know with what result. See Peking Daily News, September 5th, 1914. 

2 Something similar may be seen in Mormonism where angels and legends have 
been invented by individual fancy without any background of tradition. 


but less so for Taoism and Buddhism. Philosophic Taoism, 
being somewhat abstruse and unpractical, might seem to have 
little chance of becoming a popular superstition. But from early 
times it was opposed to Confucianism, and as Confucianism 
became more and more the hall-mark of the official and learned 
classes, Taoism tended to become popular, at the expense of 
degrading itself. From early times too it dallied with such 
fascinating notions as the acquisition of miraculous powers and 
longevity. But, as an appeal to the emotional and spiritual 
sides of humanity, it was, if superior to Confucianism, inferior 
to Buddhism. 

Buddhism, unlike Confucianism and Taoism, entered China 
as a foreign religion, but, in using this phrase, we must ask how 
far any system of belief prevalent there is accepted as what we 
call a religion. Even in Ceylon and Burma people follow the 
observances of two religions or at least of a religion and a 
superstition, but they would undoubtedly call themselves 
Buddhists. In China the laity use no such designations and 
have no sense of exclusive membership. For them a religion is 
comparable to a club, which they use for special purposes. You 
may frequent both Buddhist and Taoist temples just as you 
may belong to both the Geographical and Zoological Societies. 
Perhaps the position of spiritualism in England offers the 
nearest analogy to a Chinese religion. There are, I believe, some 
few persons for whom spiritualism is a definite, sufficient and 
exclusive creed. These may be compared to the Buddhist clergy 
with a small minority of the laity. But the majority of those 
who are interested or even believe in spiritualism, do not 
identify themselves with it in this way. They attend seances 
as their curiosity or affections may prompt, but these beliefs 
and practices do not prevent them from also belonging to a 
Christian denomination. Imagine spiritualism to be better 
organized as an institution and you will have a fairly accurate 
picture of the average Chinaman s attitude to Buddhism and 
Taoism. One may also compare the way in which English poets 
use classical mythology. Lycidas, for instance, is an astounding 
compound of classical and biblical ideas, and Milton does not 
hesitate to call the Supreme Being Jove in a serious passage. 
Yet Milton s Christianity has never, so far as I know, been called 
in question. 


There is an obvious historical parallel between the religions 
of the Chinese and early Roman Empires. In both, the imperial 
and official worship was political and indifferent to dogma 
without being hostile, provided no sectary refused to call the 
Emperor Son of Heaven or sacrifice to his image. In both, 
ample provision was made outside the state cult for allaying 
the fears of superstition, as well as for satisfying the soul s 
thirst for knowledge and emotion. A Roman magistrate of the 
second century A.D. may have offered official sacrifices, pro 
pitiated local genii, and attended the mysteries of Mithra, in 
the same impartial way as Chinese magistrates took part a few 
years ago in the ceremonies of Confucianism, Taoism and 
Buddhism. In both cases there was entire liberty to combine 
with the official religious routine private beliefs and observances 
incongruous with it and often with one another: in both there 
was the same essential feature that no deity demanded exclusive 
allegiance. The popular polytheism of China is indeed closely 
analogous to the paganism of the ancient world 1 . Hinduism 
contains too much personal religion and real spiritual feeling 
to make the resemblance perfect, but in dealing with Apollo, 
Mars and Venus a Roman of the early Empire seems to have 
shown the mixture of respect and scepticism which is charac 
teristic of China. 

This attitude implies not only a certain want of conviction 
but also a utilitarian view of religion. The Chinese visit a temple 
much as they visit a shop or doctor, for definite material 
purposes, and if it be asked whether they are a religious people 
in the better sense of the word, I am afraid the answer must be 
in the negative. It is with regret that I express this opinion and 
I by no means imply that there are not many deeply religious 
persons in China, but whereas in India the obvious manifesta 
tions of superstition are a superficial disease and the heart of 
the people is keenly sensitive to questions of personal salvation 
and speculative theology, this cannot be said of the masses in 
China, where religion, as seen, consists of superstitious rites and 
the substratum of thought and feeling is small. 

1 The sixth ^Eneid would seem to a Chinese quite a natural description of the 
next world. In it we have Elysium, Tartarus, transmigration of souls, souls who can 
find no resting place because their bodies are unburied, and phantoms showing still 
the wounds which their bodies received in life. Nor is there any attempt to har 
monize these discordant ideas. 


This struck me forcibly when visiting Siam some years ago. 
In Bangkok there is a large Chinese population and several 
Buddhist temples have been made over to them. The temples 
frequented by Siamese are not unlike catholic churches in 
Europe: the decoration is roughly similar, the standard of 
decorum much the same. The visitors come to worship, meditate 
or hear sermons. But in the temples used by the Chinese, a 
lower standard is painfully obvious and the atmosphere is 
different. Visitors are there in plenty, but their object is to 
"get luck," and the business of religion has become transformed 
into divination and spiritual gambling. The worshipper, on 
entering, goes to a counter where he buys tapers and incense- 
sticks, together with some implements of superstition such as 
rods or inscribed cards. After burning incense he draws a 
card or throws the rods up into the air and takes an augury from 
the result. Though the contrast presented in Siam makes the 
degradation more glaring, yet these temples in Bangkok are 
not worse than many which I have seen in China. I gladly set 
on the other side of the account some beautiful and reverent 
halls of worship in the larger monasteries, but I fear that the 
ordinary Chinese temple, whether Taoist or Buddhist, is a 
ghostly shop where, in return for ceremonies which involve 
neither moral nor intellectual effort, the customer is promised 
good luck, offspring, and other material blessings. 

It can hardly be denied that the populace in China are 
grossly superstitious. Superstition is a common failing and 
were statistics available to show the number and status of 
Europeans who believe in fortune-telling and luck, the result 
might be startling. But in most civilized countries such things 
are furtive and apologetic. In China the strangest forms of 
magic and divination enjoy public esteem. The ideas which 
underlie popular practice and ritual are worthy of African 
savages : there has been a monstrous advance in systematization, 
yet the ethics and intellect of China, brilliant as are their 
achievements, have not leavened the lump. The average 
Chinese, though an excellent citizen, full of common sense and 
shrewd in business, is in religious matters a victim of fatuous 
superstition and completely divorced from the moral and 
intellectual standards which he otherwise employs. 

Conspicuous among these superstitions is Feng Shui or 


Geomancy 1 , a pseudo -science which is treated as seriously as 
law or surveying. It is based on the idea that localities have a 
sort of spiritual climate which brings prosperity or the reverse 
and depends on the influences of stars and nature spirits, such 
as the azure dragon and white tiger. But since these agencies 
find expression in the contours of a locality, they can be affected 
if its features are modified by artificial means, for instance, the 
construction of walls and towers. Buddhism did not disdain 
to patronize these notions. The principal hall of a monastery is 
usually erected on a specially auspicious site and the appeals 
issued for the repair of sacred buildings often point out the 
danger impending if edifices essential to the good Feng Shui of 
a district are allowed to decay. The scepticism and laughter of 
the educated does not clear the air, for superstition can flourish 
when neither respected nor believed. The worst feature of 
religion in China is that the decently educated public ridicules 
its external observances, but continues to practise them, 
because they are connected with occasions of good fellowship 
or because their omission might be a sign of disrespect to 
departed relatives or simply because in dealing with uncanny 
things it is better to be on the safe side. This is the sum of 
China s composite religion as visible in public and private rites. 
Its ethical value is far higher than might be supposed, for its 
most absurd superstitions also recommend love and respect in 
family life and a high standard of civic duty. But China has 
never admitted that public or private morality requires the 
support of a religious creed. 

As might be expected, life and animation are more apparent 
in sects than in conventional religion. Since the recent revolu 
tion it is no longer necessary to confute the idea that the Chinese 
are a stationary and unemotional race, but its inaccuracy was 
demonstrated by many previous movements especially the 
T ai-p ing rebellion, which had at first a religious tinge. Yet in 
China such movements, though they may kindle enthusiasm 
and provoke persecution, rarely have the religious value at- 

^ 80mewnat similar pseudo-science called vatthu-vijja is condemned 
in the Pali scriptures. E.g. Digha N. i. 21. Astrology also has been a great force 
in Chinese politics. See Bland and Backhouse, Ann. and Memoirs, passim. The 
favour shown at different times to Buddhist, Manichsean and Catholic priests was 
often due to their supposed knowledge of astrology. 


taching to a sect in Christian, Hindu and Mohammedan 
countries. Viewed as an ecclesiastical or spiritual movement, 
the T ai-p ing is insignificant: it was a secret society permitted 
by circumstances to become a formidable rising and in its 
important phases the political element was paramount. The 
same is true of many sects which have not achieved such no 
toriety. They are secret societies which adopt a creed, but it is 
not in the creed that their real vitality lies. 

If it is difficult to say how far the Buddhism of China is a 
religion, it is equally difficult to define its relation to the State. 
Students well acquainted with the literature as well as with the 
actual condition of China have expressed diametrically opposite 
views as to the religious attitude of the Imperial Government 1 , 
one stating roundly that it was "the most intolerant, the most 
persecuting of all earthly Governments," and another that it 
"at no period refused hospitality and consideration to any 
religion recommended as such 2 ." 

In considering such questions I would again emphasize the 
fact that Chinese terms have often not the same extension as 
their apparent synonyms in European languages, which, of 
course, means that the provinces of human life and thought have 
also different boundaries. For most countries the word clergy 
has a definite meaning and, in spite of great diversities, may be 
applied to Christian clerics, Mollahs and Brahmans without 
serious error. It means a class of men who are the super 
intendents of religion, but also more. On the one side, though 
they may have serious political differences with the Government, 
they are usually in touch with it: on the other, though they 
may dislike reformers and movements from below, they patronize 
and minister to popular sentiment. They are closely connected 
with education and learning and sometimes with the law. But 
in China there is no class which unites all these features. 
Learning, law and education are represented by the Confucian 
scholars or literati. Though no one would think of calling them 
priests, yet they may offer official sacrifices, like Roman magis- 

1 I may again remind the reader that I am not speaking of the Chinese Republic 
but of the Empire. The long history of its relations to Buddhism, Taoism and Con 
fucianism, though it concerns the past, is of great interest. 

2 De Groot and Parker. For an elaboration of the first thesis see especially 
De Groot s Sectarianism and Religious Persecution in China. 


trates. Though they are contemptuous of popular superstition, 
yet they embody the popular ideal. It is the pride of a village 
to produce a scholar. But the scholarship of the literati is purely 
Confucian : Buddhist and Taoist learning have no part in it. 

The priest, whether Buddhist or Taoist, is not in the mind 
of the people the repository of learning and law. He is not 
in religious matters the counterpart of the secular arm, but 
rather a private practitioner, duly licensed but of no particular 
standing. But he is skilful in his own profession : he has access 
to the powers who help, pity and console, and even the sceptic 
seeks his assistance when confronted with the dangers of this 
world and the next. 

The student of Chinese history may object that at many 
periods, notably under the Yuan dynasty, the Buddhist clergy 
were officially recognized as an educational body and even 
received the title of Kuo-shih or teacher of the people. This is 
true. Such recognition by no means annihilated the literati, 
but it illustrates the decisive influence exercised by the Emperor 
and the court. We have, on the one side, a learned official class, 
custodians of the best national ideals but inclined to reject 
emotion and speculation as well as superstition: on the other, 
two priesthoods, prone to superstition but legitimately strong 
in so far as they satisfied the emotional and speculative instincts. 
The literati held persistently, though respectfully, to the view 
that the Emperor should be a Confucianist pure and simple, but 
Buddhism and Taoism had such strong popular support that 
it was always safe and often politic for an Emperor to patronize 
them. Hence an Emperor of personal convictions was able 
to turn the balance, and it must be added that Buddhism often 
flourished in the courts of weak and dissolute Emperors who 
were in the hands of women and eunuchs. Some of these latter 
were among its most distinguished devotees. 

All Chinese religions agreed in accepting the Emperor as 
head of the Church, not merely titular but active. He exercised 
a strange prerogative of creating, promoting and degrading 
deities. Even within the Buddhist sphere he regulated the 
incarnations of Bodhisattvas in the persons of Lamas and from 
time to time re-edited the canon 1 or added new works to it. This 

1 But it must be remembered that the Chinese canon is not entirely analogous 
to the collections of the scriptures current in India, Ceylon or Europe. 


extreme Erastianism had its roots in Indian as well as Chinese 
ideas. The Confucianist, while reminding the Emperor that he 
should imitate the sages and rulers of antiquity, gladly ad 
mitted his right to control the worship of all spirits 1 and the 
popular conscience, while probably unable to define what was 
meant by the title Son of Heaven 2 , felt that it gave him a vice 
regal right to keep the gods in order, so long as he did not 
provoke famine or other national calamities by mismanagement. 
The Buddhists, though tenacious of freedom in the spiritual life, 
had no objection to the patronage of princes. Asoka permitted 
himself to regulate the affairs of the Church and the success of 
Buddhists as missionaries was due in no small measure to their 
tact in allowing other sovereigns to follow his example. 

That Buddhism should have obtained in China a favourable 
reception and a permanent status is indeed remarkable, for in 
two ways it was repugnant to the sentiments of the governing 
classes to say nothing of the differences in temper and outlook 
which divide Hindus and Chinese. Firstly, its ideal was 
asceticism and celibacy ; it gave family life the lower place and 
ignored the popular Chinese view that to have a son is not only 
a duty, but also essential for those sacrifices without which the 
departed spirit cannot have peace. Secondly, it was not merely 
a doctrine but an ecclesiastical organization, a congregation 
of persons who were neither citizens nor subjects, not exactly 
an imperium in imperio nor a secret society, but dangerously 
capable of becoming either. Such bodies have always incurred 
the suspicion and persecution of the Chinese Government. Even 
in the fifth century Buddhist monasteries were accused of 
organizing armed conspiracies and many later sects suffered 
from the panic which they inspired in official bosoms. But 
both difficulties were overcome by the suppleness of the clergy. 

1 The Emperor is the Lord of all spirits and has the right to sacrifice to all 
spirits, whereas others should sacrifice only to such spirits as concern them. For 
the Emperor s title "Lord of Spirits," see Shu Ching iv., vi. 2-3, and Shih Ching, 
m., n. 8, 3. 

2 The title is undoubtedly very ancient and means Son of Heaven or Son of 
God. See Hirth, Ancient History of China, pp. 95-96. But the precise force of Son 
is not clear. The Emperor was Viceregent of Heaven, high priest and responsible 
for natural phenomena, but he could not in historical times be regarded as sprung 
(like the Emperor of Japan) from a family of divine descent, because the dynasties, 
and with them the imperial family, were subject to frequent change. 

Em. 16 


If they outraged family sentiment they managed to make 
themselves indispensable at funeral ceremonies 1 . If they had 
a dangerous resemblance to an imperium in imperio, they 
minimized it by their obvious desire to exercise influence through 
the Emperor. Though it is true that the majority of anti- 
dynastic political sects had a Buddhist colour, the most 
prominent and influential Buddhists never failed in loyalty. 
To this adroitness must be added a solid psychological advantage. 
The success of Buddhism in China was due to the fact that it 
presented religious emotion and speculation in the best form 
known there, and when it began to spread the intellectual soil 
was not unpropitious. The higher Taoist philosophy had made 
familiar the ideas of quietism and the contemplative life: the 
age was unsettled, harassed alike by foreign invasion and civil 
strife. In such times when even active natures tire of un 
successful struggles, the asylum of a monastery has attractions 
for many. 

We have now some idea of the double position of Buddhism 
in China and can understand how it sometimes appears as 
almost the established church and sometimes as a persecuted 
sect. The reader will do well to remember that in Europe the 
relations of politics to religion have not always been simple: 
many Catholic sovereigns have quarrelled with Popes and monks. 
The French Government supports the claims of Catholic missions 
in China but does not favour the Church in France. The fact 
that Huxley was made a Privy Councillor does not imply that 
Queen Victoria approved of his religious views. In China the 
repeated restrictive edicts concerning monasteries should not 
be regarded as acts of persecution. Every politician can see the 
loss to the state if able-bodied men become monks by the 
thousand. In periods of literary and missionary zeal, large 
congregations of such monks may have a sufficient sphere of 
activity but in sleepy, decadent periods they are apt to become 
a moral or political danger. A devout Buddhist or Catholic 
may reasonably hold that though the monastic life is the best 
for the elect, yet for the unworthy it is more dangerous than 
the temptations of the world. Thus the founder of the Ming 
dynasty had himself been a bonze, yet he limited the number 

1 Similarly it is a popular tenet that if a man becomes a monk all his ancestors 
go to Heaven. See Paraphrase of sacred Edict, vn. 


and age of those who might become monks 1 . On the other hand, 
he attended Buddhist services and published an edition of the 
Tripitaka. In this and in the conduct of most Emperors there 
is little that is inconsistent or mysterious : they regarded religion 
not in our fashion as a system deserving either allegiance or 
rejection, but as a modern Colonial Governor might regard 
education. Some Governors are enthusiastic for education: 
others mistrust it as a stimulus of disquieting ideas: most 
accept it as worthy of occasional patronage, like hospitals and 
races. In the same way some Emperors, like Wu-Ti 2 , were 
enthusiasts for Buddhism and made it practically the state 
religion: a few others were definitely hostile either from con 
viction or political circumstances, but probably most sovereigns 
regarded it as the average British official regards education, as 
something that one can t help having, that one must belaud on 
certain public occasions, that may now and then be useful, but 
still emphatically something to be kept within limits. 

Outbursts against Buddhism are easy to understand. I have 
pointed out its un-Chinese features and the persistent opposition 
of the literati. These were sufficient reasons for repressive 
measures whenever the Emperor was unbuddhist in his sym 
pathies, especially if the monasteries had enjoyed a period of 
prosperity and become crowded and wealthy. What is harder 
to understand is the occasional favour shown by apparently 
anti-Buddhist Emperors. 

The Sacred Edict of the great K ang Hsi forbids heterodoxy 
(i tuan) in which the official explanation clearly includes 
Buddhism 3 . It was published in his extreme youth, but had 
his mature approval, and until recently was read in every 
prefecture twice a month. But the same Emperor gave many 
gifts to monasteries, and in 1705 he issued a decree to the 
monks of P uto in which he said, "we since our boyhood have 
been earnest students of Confucian lore and have had no time 
to become minutely acquainted with the sacred books of 
Buddhism, but we are satisfied that Virtue is the one word 

1 Japanese Emperors did the same, e.g. Kwammu Tenno in 793. 

3 K ang Hsi is responsible only for the text of the Edict which merely forbids 
heterodoxy. But his son Yung Cheng who published the explanation and paraphrase 
repaired the Buddhist temples at P uto and the Taoist temple at Lung-hu-shan. 


which indicates what is essential in both systems. Let us pray 
to the compassionate Kuan-yin that she may of her grace send 
down upon our people the spiritual rain and sweet dew of the 
good Law: that she may grant them bounteous harvests, 
seasonable winds and the blessings of peace, harmony and long 
life and finally that she may lead them to the salvation which 
she offers to all beings in the Universe 1 ." The two edicts are 
not consistent but such inconsistency is no reproach to a states 
man nor wholly illogical. The Emperor reprimands extrava 
gance in doctrine and ceremonial and commends Confucianism 
to his subjects as all that is necessary for good life and good 
government, but when he finds that Buddhism conduces to the 
same end he accords his patronage and politely admits the 
existence and power of Kuan-yin. 

But I must pass on to another question, the relation of 
Chinese to Indian Buddhism. Chinese Buddhism is often spoken 
of as a strange and corrupt degeneration, a commixture of 
Indian and foreign ideas. Now if such phrases mean that the 
pulse of life is feeble and the old lights dim, we must regretfully 
admit their truth, but still little is to be found in Chinese 
Buddhism except the successive phases of later Indian 
Buddhism, introduced into China from the first century A.D. 
onwards. In Japan there arose new sects, but in China, when 
importation ceased, no period of invention supervened. The 
T ien-t ai school has some originality, and native and foreign 
ideas were combined by the followers of Bodhidharma. But 
the remaining schools were all founded by members of Indian 
sects or by Chinese who aimed at scrupulous imitation of Indian 
models. Until the eighth century, when the formative period 
came to an end, we have an alternation of Indian or Central 
Asian teachers arriving in China to meet with respect and 
acceptance, and of Chinese enquirers who visited India in order 
to discover the true doctrine and practice and were honoured 
on their return in proportion as they were believed to have 
found it. There is this distinction between China and such 
countries as Java, Camboja and Champa, that whereas in 

1 See Johnston, p. 352. I have not seen the Chinese text of this edict. In Laufer 
and Francke s EpigraphiscTie Denkmdler aus China is a long inscription of Kang Hsi s 
giving the history both legendary and recent of the celebrated sandal-wood image 
of the Buddha. 


them we find a mixture of Hinduism and Buddhism, in China 
the traces of Hinduism are slight. The imported ideas, however 
corrupt, were those of Indian Buddhist scholars, not the mixed 
ideas of the Indian layman 1 . 

Of course Buddhist theory and practice felt the influence of 
their new surroundings. The ornaments and embroidery of the 
faith are Chinese and sometimes hide the original material. 
Thus Kuan-yin, considered historically, has grown out of the 
Indian deity Avalokita, but the goddess worshipped by the 
populace is the heroine of the Chinese romance mentioned 
above. And, since many Chinese are only half Buddhists, tales 
about gods and saints are taken only half -seriously ; the 
Buddha periodically invites the immortals to dine with him in 
Heaven and the Eighteen Lohan are described as converted 

In every monastery the buildings, images and monks 
obviously bear the stamp of the country. Yet nearly all the 
doctrines and most of the usages have Indian parallels. The 
ritual has its counterpart in what I-Ching describes as seen by 
himself in his Indian travels. China has added the idea of 
feng-shui, and has modified architectural forms. For instance 
the many-storeyed pagoda is an elongation of the stupa 2 . So, 
too, in ceremonial, the great prominence given to funeral rites 
and many superstitious details are Chinese, yet, as I have often 
mentioned in this work, rites on behalf of the dead were tolerated 
by early Buddhism. The curious mingling of religious services 
with theatrical pagents which Hsiian Chuang witnessed at 
Allahabad in the reign of Harsha, has its modest parallel to-day 
in many popular festivals. 

The numerous images which crowd a Chinese temple, the 

1 This indicates that the fusion of Buddhism and Hinduism was less complete 
than some scholars suppose. Where there was a general immigration of Hindus, the 
mixture is found, but the Indian visitors to China were mostly professional teachers 
and their teaching was definitely Buddhist. There are, however, two non-Buddhist 
books in the Chinese Tripitaka. Nanjio Cat. Nos. 1295 and 1300. 

2 It has been pointed out by Fergusson and others that there were high towers 
in China before the Buddhist period. Still, the numerous specimens extant date 
from Buddhist times, many were built over relics, and the accounts of both Fa-hsien 
and Hsuan Chuang show that the Stupa built by Kanishka at Peshawar had 
attracted the attention of the Chinese. 

I regret that de Groot s interesting work Der Thupa: das heiligste Heiligtum des 
Buddhismus in China, 1919, reached me too late for me to make use of it. 


four kings, Arhats and Bodhisattvas, though of unfamiliar 
appearance to the Indian student, are Indian in origin. A few 
Taoist deities may have side chapels, but they are not among 
the principal objects of worship. The greater part of the Chinese 
Tripitaka is a translation from the Sanskrit and the Chinese 
works (only 194 against 1467 translations) are chiefly exegetical. 
Thus, though Chinese bonzes countenance native superstitions 
and gladly undertake to deal with all the gods and devils of 
the land, yet in its doctrine, literature, and even in many 
externals their Buddhism remains an Indian importation. If we 
seek in it for anything truly Chinese, it is to be found not in the 
constituents, but in the atmosphere, which, like a breeze from 
a mountain monastery sometimes freshens the gilded shrines 
and libraries of verbose sutras. It is the native spirit of the 
Far East which finds expression in the hill-side hermit s sense 
of freedom and in dark sayings such as Buddhism is the oak-tree 
in my garden. Every free and pure heart can become a Buddha, 
but also is one with the life of birds and flowers. Both the love 
of nature 1 and the belief that men can become divine can easily 
be paralleled in Indian texts, but they were not, I think, im 
ported into China, and joy in natural beauty and sympathy with 
wild life are much more prominent in Chinese than in Indian art. 
Is then Buddhist doctrine, as opposed to the superstitions 
tolerated by Buddhism, something exotic and without influence 
on the national life? That also is not true. The reader will 
perceive from what has gone before that if he asks for statistics 
of Buddhism in China, the answer must be, in the Buddha s 
own phrase, that the question is not properly put. It is incorrect 
to describe China as a Buddhist country. We may say that it 
contains so many million Mohammedans or Christians, because 
these creeds are definite and exclusive. We cannot quote similar 
figures for Buddhism or Confucianism. Yet assuredly Buddhism 
has been a great power in China, as great perhaps as Christianity 
in Europe, if we remember how much is owed by European art, 
literature, law and science to non-Christian sources. The Chinese 
language is full of Buddhist phraseology 2 , not only in literature 

1 The love of nature shown in the Pali Pitakas (particularly the Thera and Theri 
Gatha) has often been noticed, but it is also strong in Mahayanist literature. E.g. 
Bodhicaryavatara vm. 26-39 and 86-88. 

2 See especially Watters, Essays on the Chinese Language, chaps, vm and ix, 
and dementi, Cantonese Love Songs in English, pp. 9 to 12 


but in popular songs and proverbs and an inspection of such 
entries in a Chinese dictionary as Fo (Buddha), Kuan Yin, 
Ho Shang (monk) 1 will show how large and not altogether 
flattering a part they play in popular speech. 

Popular literature bears the same testimony. It is true that 
in what are esteemed the higher walks of letters Buddhism has 
little place. The quotations and allusions which play there so 
prominent a part are taken from the classics and Confucianism 
can claim as its own the historical, lexicographical and critical 2 
works which are the solid and somewhat heavy glory of Chinese 
literature. But its lighter and less cultivated blossoms, such 
as novels, fairy stories and poetry, are predominantly Buddhist 
or Taoist in inspiration. This may be easily verified by a perusal 
of such works as the Dream of the Red Chamber, Strange Stories 
from a Chinese Studio, and Wieger s Folk Lore Chinois Moderne. 
The same is true in general of the great Chinese poets, many of 
whom did not conceal that (in a poetic and unascetic fashion) 
they were attached to Buddhism. 

It may be asked if the inspiration is not Taoist in the main 
rather than Buddhist. Side by side with ethics and ceremony, 
a native stream of bold and weird imagination has never ceased 
to flow in China and there was no need to import tales of the 
Genii, immortal saints and vampire beauties. But when any 
coherency unites these ideas of the supernatural, that I think 
is the work of Buddhism and so far as Taoism itself has any 
coherency it is an imitation of Buddhism. Thus the idea of 
metempsychosis as one of many passing fancies may be in 
digenous to China but its prevalence in popular thought and 
language is undoubtedly due to Buddhism, for Taoism and 
Confucianism have nothing definite to say as to the state of 
the dead. 

Much the same story of Buddhist influence is told by Chinese 
art, especially painting and sculpture. Here too Taoism is by 
no means excluded : it may be said to represent the artistic side 

1 0U, ffiih sfafft. 

2 I cannot refrain from calling attention to the difference between the Chinese 
and most other Asiatic peoples (especially the Hindus) as exhibited in their litera 
ture. Quite apart from European influence the Chinese produced several centuries 
ago catalogues of museums and descriptive lists of inscriptions, worke which have 
no parallel in Hindu India. 


of the Chinese mind, as Confucianism represents the political. 
But it is impossible to mistake the significance of chronology. 
As soon as Buddhism was well established in China, art entered 
on a new phase which culminated in the masterpieces of the 
T ang and Sung 1 . Buddhism did not introduce painting into 
China or even perfect a rudimentary art. The celebrated roll 
of Ku K ai-chih 2 shows no trace of Indian influence and pre 
supposes a long artistic tradition. But Mahayanist Buddhism 
brought across Central Asia new shapes and motives. Some of 
its imports were of doubtful artistic value, such as figures with 
many limbs and eyes, but with them came ideas which en 
riched Chinese art with new dramatic power, passion and 
solemnity. Taoism dealt with other worlds but they were 
gardens of the Hesperides, inhabited by immortal wizards and 
fairy queens, not those disquieting regions where the soul 
receives the reward of its deeds. But now the art of Central 
Asia showed Chinese painters something new ; saints preaching 
the law with a gesture of authority and deities of infinite 
compassion inviting suppliants to approach their thrones. And 
with them came the dramatic story of Gotama s life and all 
the legends of the Jatakas. 

This clearly is not Taoism, but when the era of great art 
and literature begins, any distinction between the two creeds, 
except for theological purposes, becomes artificial, for Taoism 
borrowed many externals of Buddhism, and Buddhism, while 
not abandoning its austere and emaciated saints, also accepted 
the Taoist ideal of the careless wandering hermit, friend of 
mountain pines and deer. Wei Hsieh 3 who lived under the 
Chin dynasty, when the strength of Buddhism was beginning 
to be felt, is considered by Chinese critics as the earliest of the 
great painters and is said to have excelled in both Buddhist and 
Taoist subjects. The same may be said of the most eminent 
names, such as Ku K ai-chih and Wu Tao-tzu 4 , and we may also 
remember that Italian artists painted the birth of Venus and 
the origin of the milky way as well as Annunciations and 

1 There are said to have been four great schools of Buddhist painting under the 
T ang. See Kokka 294 and 295. 

2 Preserved in the British Museum and published. 

of the -ET" dynasty. 


Assumptions, without any hint that one incident was less true 
than another. Buddhism not only provided subjects like the 
death of the Buddha and Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, which 
hold in Chinese art the same place as the Crucifixion and the 
Madonna in Europe, and generation after generation have 
stimulated the noblest efforts of the best painters. It also 
offered a creed and ideals suited to the artistic temperament: 
peace and beauty reigned in its monasteries: its doctrine that 
life is one and continuous is reflected in that love of nature, that 
sympathetic understanding of plants and animals, that intimate 
union of sentiment with landscape which marks the best 
Chinese pictures. 

CHINA (continued) 


THE traditional date for the introduction of Buddhism is 62 A.D., 
when the chronicles tell how the Emperor Ming-Ti of the Later 
Han Dynasty dreamt that he saw a golden man fly into his 
palace 1 and how his courtiers suggested that the figure was 
Fo-t o 2 or Buddha, an Indian God. Ming-Ti did not let the 
matter drop and in 65 sent an embassy to a destination variously 
described as the kingdom of the Ta Yiieh Chih 3 or India with 
Instructions to bring back Buddhist scriptures and priests. On 
its return it was accompanied by a monk called Kasyapa 
Matanga 4 , a native of Central India. A second called Chu 
Fa-Lan 5 , who came from Central Asia and found some difficulty 
in obtaining permission to leave his country, followed shortly 
afterwards. Both were installed at Loyang, the capital of the 
dynasty, in the White Horse Monastery 6 , so called because the 
foreign monks rode on white horses or used them for carrying 

The story has been criticized as an obvious legend, but I 
see no reason why it should not be true to this extent that 
Ming-Ti sent an embassy to Central Asia (not India in our 
sense) with the result that a monastery was for the first time 
established under imperial patronage. The gravest objection is 
that before the campaigns of Pan Ch ao 7 , which began about 
73 A.D., Central Asia was in rebellion against China. But those 

1 See B.E.F.E.O. 1910, Le Songe et I Ambassade de 1 Empereur Ming Ti, par 
M. H. Maspero, where the original texts are translated and criticized. It is a curious 
coincidenoe that Ptolemy Soter is said to have introduced the worship of Serapis 
to Egypt from Sinope in consequence of a dream. 

No doubt then pronounced something like Vut-tha. 


campaigns show that the Chinese Court was occupied with 
Central Asian questions and to send envoys to enquire about 
religion may have been politically advantageous, for they could 
obtain information without asserting or abandoning China s 
claims to sovereignty. The story does not state that there was 
no Buddhism in China before 62 A.D. On the contrary it 
implies that though it was not sufficiently conspicuous to be 
known to the Emperor, yet there was no difficulty in obtaining 
information about it and other facts support the idea that it 
began to enter China at least half a century earlier. The negotia 
tions of Chang Ch ien 1 with the Yiieh Chih (129-119 B.C.) and 
the documents discovered by Stein in the ancient military posts 
on the western frontier of Kansu 2 prove that China had com 
munication with Central Asia, but neither the accounts of 
Chang Ch ien s journeys nor the documents contain any allusion 
to Buddhism. In 121 B.C. the Annals relate that "a golden 
man" was captured from the Hsiung-nu but, even if it was an 
image of Buddha, the incident had no consequences. More 
important is a notice in the Wei-liieh which gives a brief account 
of the Buddha s birth and states that in the year 2 B.C. an 
ambassador sent by the Emperor Ai to the court of the Yiieh 
Chih was instructed in Buddhism by order of their king 3 . Also 
the Later Han Annals intimate that in 65 A.D. the Prince of 
Ch u 4 was a Buddhist and that there were Sramanas and 
Upasakas in his territory. 

The author of the Wei-liieh comments on the resemblance 
of Buddhist writings to the work of Lao-tzu, and suggests that 
the latter left China in order to teach in India. This theory found 
many advocates among the Taoists, but is not likely to commend 
itself to European scholars. Less improbable is a view held by 

2 See Chavannes, Les documents Chinois decouverts par Aurel Stein, 1913, Intro 
duction. The earliest documents are of 98 B.C. 

3 The Wei-liieh or Wei-lio f$|:Jgr ? composed between 239 and 265 A.D., no 
longer exists as a complete work, but a considerable extract from it dealing with the 
countries of the West is incorporated in the San Kuo Chih - - BeJAiN of P ei- 
Sung-Chih jj|>|^^ ( 429 A.D.). See Chavannes, translation and notes in T oung 
Poo, 1905, pp. 619-571. 

4 4S . See Chavannes, Lc. p. 550. 


many Chinese critics 1 and apparently first mentioned in the 
Sui annals, namely, that Buddhism was introduced into China 
at an early date but was exterminated by the Emperor Shih 
Huang Ti (221-206) in the course of his crusade against litera 
ture. But this view is not supported by any details and is open 
to the general objection that intercourse between China and 
India vid Central Asia before 200 B.C. is not only unproved but 

Still the mystical, quietist philosophy of Lao-tzu and Chuang- 
tzu has an undoubted resemblance to Indian thought. No one 
who is familiar with the Upanishads can read the Tao-Te-Ching 
without feeling that if Brahman is substituted for Tao the whole 
would be intelligible to a Hindu. Its doctrine is not specifically 
Buddhist, yet it contains passages which sound like echoes of 
the Pitakas. Compare Tao-Te-Ching, 33. 1, "He who overcomes 
others is strong: he who overcomes himself is mighty," with 
Dhammapada, 103, "If one man overcome a thousand thousand 
in battle and another overcome himself, this last is the greatest 
of conquerors"; and 46. 2, "There is no greater sin that to look 
on what moves desire : there is no greater evil than discontent : 
there is no greater disaster than covetousness," with Dham 
mapada, 251, "There is no fire like desire, there is no monster 
like hatred, there is no snare like folly, there is no torrent like 
covetousness." And if it be objected that these are the coin 
cidences of obvious ethics, I would call attention to 39. 1, 
"Hence if we enumerate separately each part that goes to 
form a cart, we have no cart at all." Here .the thought and its 
illustration cannot be called obvious and the resemblance to 
well-known passages in the Samyutta Nikaya and Questions 
of Milinda 2 is striking. 

Any discussion of the indebtedness of the Tao-Te-Chirig to 
India is too complicated for insertion here since it involves the 

1 See Francke, Zur Frage der Einfiihrung des Buddhismus in China, 1910, and 
Maspero s re vie w in B. E. F. E. 0. 1 9 1 0, p. 629. Another Taoist legend is that Dipankara 
Buddha or Jan Teng, described as the teacher of Sakyamuni was a Taoist and that 
6akyamuni visited him in China. Giles quotes extracts from a writer of the eleventh 
century called Shen Kua to the effect that Buddhism had been flourishing before 
the Ch in dynasty but disappeared with its advent and also that eighteen priests 
were imprisoned in 216 B.C. But the story adds that they recited the Prajnapara- 
mita which is hardly possible at that epoch. 

2 Sam. Nik. v. 10. 6. Cf. for a similar illustration in Chuang-tzu, S.B.E. XL. p. 120. 


question of its date or the date of particular passages, if we 
reject the hypothesis that the work as we have it was composed 
by Lao-tzu in the sixth century B.C. 1 But there is less reason 
to doubt the genuineness of the essays of Chuang-tzu who lived 
in the fourth century B.C. In them we find mention of trances 
which give superhuman wisdom and lead to union with the 
all-pervading spirit, and of magical powers enjoyed by sages, 
similar to the Indian iddhi. He approves the practice of 
abandoning the world and enunciates the doctrines of evolution 
and reincarnation. He knows, as does also the Tao-Te-Ching, 
methods of regulating the breathing which are conducive to 
mental culture and long life. He speaks of the six faculties of 
perception, which recall the Shadayatana, and of name and 
real existence (namarupam) as being the conditions of a thing 2 . 
He has also a remarkable comparison of death to the extinction 
of a fire: "what we can point to are the faggots that have been 
consumed : but the fire is transmitted and we know not that it 
is over and ended." Several Buddhist parallels to this might 
be cited 3 . 

The list of such resemblances might be made longer and the 
explanation that Indian ideas reached China sporadically, at 
least as early as the fourth century B.C., seems natural. I should 
accept it, if there were any historical evidence besides these 
literary parallels. But there seems to be none and it may be 
justly urged that the roots of this quietism lie so deep in the 
Chinese character, that the plant cannot have sprung from some 
chance wind-wafted seed. That character has two sides, one 
seen in the Chinese Empire and the classical philosophy, 
excellent as ethics but somewhat stiff and formal: the other in 
revolutions and rebellions, in the free life of hermits and 
wanderers, in poetry and painting. This second side is very like 
the temper of Indian Buddhism and easily amalgamated with 
it 4 , but it has a special note of its own. 

1 I may say, however, that I think it is a compilation containing very ancient 
sayings amplified by later material which shows Buddhist influence. This may be 
true to some extent of the Essays of Chuang-tzu as well. 

2 See Legge s translation in S.B.E. Part I. pp. 176, 257, n. 46, 62; ib. i. pp. 171, 
192, n. 13; ib. n. p. 13; ib. n. p. 9, I. p. 249; ib. pp. 45, 95, 100, 364, n. p. 139; 
ib. n. p. 139; ib. n. p. 129. 

3 76. i. p. 202; cf. the Buddha s conversation with Vaccha in Maj. Nik. 72. 

4 Kumarajiva and other Buddhists actually wrote commentaries on the Tao- 


The curiosity of Ming-Ti did not lead to any immediate 
triumph of Buddhism. We read that he was zealous in honouring 
Confucius but not that he showed devotion to the new faith. 
Indeed it is possible that his interest was political rather than 
religious. Buddhism was also discredited by its first convert, 
the Emperor s brother Chu-Ying, who rebelled unsuccessfully 
and committed suicide. Still it nourished in a quiet way and 
the two foreign monks in the White Horse Monastery began that 
long series of translations which assumed gigantic proportions 
in the following centuries. To Kasyapa is ascribed a collection 
of extracts known as the Sutra of forty-two sections which is 
still popular 1 . This little work adheres closely to the teaching 
of the Pali Tripitaka and shows hardly any traces of the Ma- 
hayana. According to the Chinese annals the chief doctrines 
preached by the first Buddhist missionaries were the sanctity 
of all animal life, metempsychosis, meditation, asceticism and 

It is not until the third century 2 that we hear much of 
Buddhism as a force at Court or among the people, but mean 
while the task of translation progressed at Lo-yang. The Chinese 
are a literary race and these quiet labours prepared the soil for 
the subsequent efflorescence. Twelve 3 translators are named as 
having worked before the downfall of the Han Dynasty and 
about 350 books are attributed to them. None of them were 
Chinese. About half came from India and the rest from Central 
Asia, the most celebrated of the latter being An Shih-kao, a 
prince of An-hsi or Parthia 4 . The Later Han Dynasty was 

1 V--t ~\ ZHJii7R^j . It speaks, however, in section 36 of being born in the 
condition or family of a Bodhisattva (P u-sa-chia), where the word seems to be used 
in the late sense of a devout member of the Buddhist Church. 

2 But the Emperor Huan is said to have sacrificed to Buddha and Lao-tzu. See 
Hou Han Shu in T oung Poo, 1907, p. 194. For early Buddhism see "Communautes 
et Moines Bouddhistes Chinois au II et au III siecles," by Maspero in B.E.F.E.O. 

1910, p. 222. In the second century lived Mou-tzu j&-^p* a Buddhist author with 

a strong spice of Taoism. His work is a collection of questions and answers, some 
what resembling the Questions of Milinda. See translation by Pelliot (in T oung 
Poo, vol. Xix. 1920) who gives the date provisionally as 195 A.D. 

3 Accounts of these and the later translators are found in the thirteen catalogues 
of the Chinese Tripitaka (see Nanjio, p. xxvii) and other works such as the Kao 
Sang-Chuan (Nanjio, No. 1490). 

He worked at translations in Loyang 148-170. 

xun] CHINA 249 

followed by the animated and romantic epoch known as the 
Three Kingdoms (221-265) when China was divided between 
the States of Wei, Wu and Shu. Loyang became the capital 
of Wei and the activity of the White Horse Monastery con 
tinued. We have the names of five translators who worked 
there. One of them was the first to translate the Patimokkha 1 , 
which argues that previously few followed the monastic life. 
At Nanking, the capital of Wu, we also hear of five translators 
and one was tutor of the Crown Prince. This implies that 
Buddhism was spreading in the south and that monks inspired 
confidence at Court. 

The Three Kingdoms gave place to the Dynasty known as 
Western Tsin 2 which, for a short time (A.D. 265-316), claimed 
to unite the Empire, and we now reach the period when Buddhism 
begins to become prominent. It is also a period of political 
confusion, of contest between the north and south, of struggles 
between Chinese and Tartars. Chinese histories, with their 
long lists of legitimate sovereigns, exaggerate the solidity and 
continuity of the Empire, for the territory ruled by those 
sovereigns was often but a small fraction of what we call China. 
Yet the Tartar states were not an alien and destructive force 
to the same extent as the conquests made by Mohammedan 
Turks at the expense of Byzantium. The Tartars were neither 
fanatical, nor prejudiced against Chinese ideals in politics and 
religion. On the contrary, they respected the language, litera 
ture and institutions of the Empire: they assumed Chinese 
names and sometimes based their claim to the Imperial title 
on the marriage of their ancestors with Chinese princesses. 

During the fourth century and the first half of the fifth 
some twenty ephemeral states, governed by Tartar chieftains 
and perpetually involved in mutual war, rose and fell in northern 
China. The most permanent of them was Northern Wei which 
lasted till 535 A.D. But the Later Chao and both the Earlier and 
Later Ts in are important for our purpose 3 . Some writers make 
it a reproach to Buddhism that its progress, which had been 

1 Dharmakala, see Nanjio, p. 386. The Vinaya used in these early days of 
Chinese Buddhism was apparently that of the Dharmagupta school. See J.A. 1916, 
ii. p. 40. An Shih-kao (c. A.D. 150) translated a work called The 3000 Rules for Monks 
(Nanjio, 1126), but it is not clear what was the Sanskrit original. 


slow among the civilized Chinese, became rapid in the provinces 
which passed into the hands of these ruder tribes. But the 
phenomenon is natural and is illustrated by the fact that even 
now the advance of Christianity is more rapid in Africa than 
in India. The civilization of China was already old and self- 
complacent: not devoid of intellectual curiosity and not in 
tolerant, but sceptical of foreign importations and of dealings 
with the next world. But the Tartars had little of their own 
in the way of literature and institutions: it was their custom 
to assimilate the arts and ideas of the civilized nations whom 
they conquered : the more western tribes had already made the 
acquaintance of Buddhism in Central Asia and such native 
notions of religion as they possessed disposed them to treat 
priests, monks and magicians with respect. 

Of the states mentioned, the Later Chao was founded by 
Shih-Lo 1 (273-332), whose territories extended from the Great 
Wall to the Han and Huai in the South. He showed favour to 
an Indian monk and diviner called Fo-t u-ch eng 2 who lived 
at his court and he appears to have been himself a Buddhist. 
At any rate the most eminent of his successors, Shih Chi-lung 3 , 
was an ardent devotee and gave general permission to the 
population to enter monasteries, which had not been granted 
previously. This permission is noticeable, for it implies, even 
at this early date, the theory that a subject of the Emperor 
has no right to become a monk without his master s leave. 

In 381 we are told that in north-western China nine-tenths 
of the inhabitants were Buddhists. In 372 Buddhism was 
introduced into Korea and accepted as the flower of Chinese 

The state known as the Former Ts in 4 had its nucleus in 

r ^ e was a remai> kable man and famous in his time, for he was 
credited not only with clairvoyance and producing rain, but with raising the dead. 
Remusat s account of him, based on the Tsin annals, may still be read with interest. 
See Nouv. Melanges Asiatiques, n. 1829, pp. 179 ff. His biography is contained in 

chap. 95 of the Tsin ^py annals. 

3 ^35 S| . Died 363 A.D. 

* Ts in IS must be distinguished from Tsin ? ? the name of three short but 
legitimate dynasties. 

xun] CHINA 251 

Shensi, but expanded considerably between 351 and 394 A.D. 
under the leadership of Fu-Chien 1 , who established in it large 
colonies of Tartars. At first he favoured Confucianism but in 
381 became a Buddhist. He was evidently in close touch with 
the western regions and probably through them with India, 
for we hear that sixty-two states of Central Asia sent him tribute. 

The Later Ts in dynasty (384-417) had its headquarters 
in Kansu and was founded by vassals of the Former Ts in. 
When the power of Fu-Chien collapsed, they succeeded to his 
possessions and established themselves in Ch ang-an. Yao- 
hsing 2 , the second monarch of this line was a devout Buddhist, 
and deserves mention as the patron of Kumarajiva 3 , the most 
eminent of the earlier translators. 

Kumarajiva was born of Indian parents in Kucha and, after 
following the school of the Sarvastivadins for some time, became 
a Mahayanist. When Kucha was captured in 383 by the 
General of Fu-Chien, he was carried off to China and from 401 
onwards he laboured at Ch ang-an for about ten years. He was 
appointed Kuo Shih 4 , or Director of Public Instruction, and 
lectured in a hall specially built for him. He is said to have had 
3000 disciples and fifty extant translations are ascribed to him. 
Probably all the Tartar kingdoms were well disposed towards 
Buddhism, though their unsettled condition made them pre 
carious residences for monks and scholars. This was doubtless 
true of Northern Wei, which had been growing during the 
period described, but appears as a prominent home of Buddhism 
somewhat later. 

Meanwhile in the south the Eastern Tsin Dynasty, which 
represented the legitimate Empire and ruled at Nanking from 
317 to 420, was also favourable to Buddhism and Hsiao Wu-Ti, 
the ninth sovereign of this line, was the first Emperor of China 
to become a Buddhist. 

The times were troubled, but order was gradually being 
restored. The Eastern Tsin Dynasty had been much disturbed 
by the struggles of rival princes. These were brought to an end 
in 420 by a new dynasty known as Liu Sung which reigned in 

3 See Nanjio, Catalogue, p. 406. 

4 H 1S6 For thia title see Pelliot in T oung Poo, 191 1, p. 671. 

E. m. 17 


the south some sixty years. The north was divided among six 
Tartar kingdoms, which all perished before 440 except Wei. 
Wei then split into an Eastern and a Western kingdom which 
lasted about a hundred years. In the south, the Liu Sung gave 
place to three short dynasties, Ch i, Liang and Ch en, until at 
last the Sui (589-605) united China. 

The Liu Sung Emperor Wen-Ti (424-454) was a patron of 
Confucian learning, but does not appear to have discouraged 
Buddhism. The Sung annals record that several embassies were 
sent from India and Ceylon to offer congratulations on the 
flourishing condition of religion in his dominions, but they also 
preserve memorials from Chinese officials asking for imperial 
interference to prevent the multiplication of monasteries and 
the growing expenditure on superstitious ceremonies. This 
marks the beginning of the desire to curb Buddhism by re 
strictive legislation which the official class displayed so promi 
nently and persistently in subsequent centuries. A similar 
reaction seems to have been felt in Wei, where the influential 
statesman Ts ui Hao 1 , a votary of Taoism, conducted an anti- 
Buddhist campaign. He was helped in this crusade by the 
discovery of arms in a monastery at Ch ang-an. The monks were 
accused of treason and debauchery and in 446 Toba Tao 2 , the 
sovereign of Wei, issued an edict ordering the destruction of 
Buddhist temples and sacred books as well as the execution of 
all priests. The Crown Prince, who was a Buddhist, was able 
to save many lives, but no monasteries or temples were left 
standing. The persecution, however, was of short duration. 
Toba Tao was assassinated and almost the first act of his 
successor was to re-establish Buddhism and allow his subjects 
to become monks. From this period date the sculptured grottoes 
of Yiin-Kang in northern Shan-si which are probably the oldest 
specimens of Buddhist art in China. In 471 another ruler of 
Wei, Toba Hung, had a gigantic image of Buddha constructed 
and subsequently abdicated in order to devote himself to 

fe He was canonized under the name of Wu OPT and the three 

* ** V > 

great persecutions of Buddhism are sometimes described as the disasters of the 
three Wu, the others being Wu of the North Chou dynasty (574) and Wu of the 
T ang (845). 


Buddhist studies. His successor marks a reaction, for he was 
an ardent Confucianist who changed the family name to Yuan 
and tried to introduce the Chinese language and dress. But the 
tide of Buddhism was too strong. It secured the favour of the 
next Emperor in whose time there are said to have been 13,000 
temples in Wei. 

In the Sung dominions a conspiracy was discovered in 458 
in which a monk was implicated, and restrictive, though not 
prohibitive, regulations were issued respecting monasteries. 
The Emperor Ming-Ti, though a cruel ruler was a devout 
Buddhist and erected a monastery in Hu-nan, at the cost of 
such heavy taxation that his ministers remonstrated. The fifty- 
nine years of Liu Sung rule must have been on the whole 
favourable to Buddhism, for twenty translators flourished, 
partly natives and partly foreigners from Central Asia, India 
and Ceylon. In 420 a band of twenty -five Chinese started on a 
pilgrimage to India. They had been preceded by the celebrated 
pilgrim Fa-Hsien 1 who travelled in India from 399 to 414. 

In the reign of Wu-Ti, the first Emperor of the Ch i dynasty, 
one of the imperial princes, named Tzu Liang 2 , cultivated the 
society of eminent monks and enjoyed theological discussions. 
From the specimens of these arguments which have been pre 
served we see that the explanation of the inequalities of life 
as the result of Karma had a great attraction for the popular 
mind and also that it provoked the hostile criticism of the 
Confucian literati. 

The accession of the Liang dynasty and the long reign of its 
first emperor Wu-Ti (502-549) were important events in the 
history of Buddhism, for this monarch rivalled Asoka in pious 
enthusiasm if not in power and prosperity. He obviously set 
the Church above the state and it was while he was on the 
throne that Bodhidharma came to China and the first edition 
of the Tripitaka was prepared. 

His reign, though primarily of importance for religion, was 
not wanting in political interest, and witnessed a long conflict 
with Wei. Wu-Ti was aided by the dissensions which distracted 
Wei but failed to achieve his object, probably as a result of his 
religious preoccupations, for he seemed unable to estimate the 

For the 25 P 11 ^ 1118 see Nanjio, p. 417. 


power of the various adventurers who from time to time rose 
to pre-eminence in the north and, holding war to be wrong, he 
was too ready to accept insincere overtures for peace. Wei split 
into two states, the Eastern and Western, and Hou-Ching 1 , a 
powerful general who was not satisfied with his position in 
either, offered his services to Wu-Ti, promising to add a large 
part of Ho-nan to his dominions. He failed in his promise but 
Wu-Ti, instead of punishing him, first gave him a post as 
governor and then listened to the proposals made by the ruler 
of Eastern Wei for his surrender. On this Hou-Ching conspired 
with an adopted son of Wu-Ti, who had been set aside as heir 
to the throne and invested Nanking. The city was captured 
after the horrors of a prolonged siege and Wu-Ti died miserably. 

Wu-Ti was not originally a Buddhist. In fact until about 
510, when he was well over forty, he was conspicuous as a 
patron of Confucianism. The change might be ascribed to per 
sonal reasons, but it is noticeable that the same thing occurred 
in Wei, where a period of Confucianism was succeeded by a 
strong wave of Buddhism which evidently swept over all China. 
Hu 2 , the Dowager Empress of Wei, was a fervent devotee, though 
of indifferent morality in both public and private life since she 
is said to have poisoned her own son. In 518 she sent Sung Yiin 
and Hui Sheng 3 to Udyana in search of Buddhist books of 
which they brought back 175. 

Wu-Ti s conversion is connected with a wandering monk and 
magician called Pao-Chih 4 , who received the privilege of 
approaching him at all hours. A monastery was erected in 
Nanking at great expense and edicts were issued forbidding 
not only the sacrifice of animals but even the representation 
of living things in embroidery, on the ground that people 
might cut up such figures and thus become callous to the sanctity 
of life. The emperor expounded Sutras in public and wrote a 
work on Buddhist ritual 5 . The first Chinese edition of the 
Tripitaka, in manuscript and not printed, was collected in 518. 

8 "T!C^^ ijlL/fc . See Chavannes, "Voyage de Song Yun dans 1 Udyana et 
le Gandhara, 518-522," p. E in B.E.F.E.O. 1903, pp. 379-441. For an interesting 
account of the Dowager Empress see pp. 384-5. 


Although Wu-Ti s edicts, particularly that against animal 
sacrifices, gave great dissatisfaction, yet the Buddhist movement 
seems to have been popular and not merely an imperial whim, 
for many distinguished persons, for instance the authors Liu 
Hsieh and Yao Ch a 1 , took part in it. 

In 520 (or according to others, in 525) Bodhidharma (gener 
ally called Ta-mo in Chinese) landed in Canton from India. He 
is described as the son of a king of a country called Hsiang- 
chih in southern India, and the twenty-eighth Patriarch 2 . He 
taught that merit does not lie in good works and that knowledge 
is not gained by reading the scriptures. The one essential is 
insight, which comes as illumination after meditation. Though 
this doctrine had subsequently much success in the Far East, it 
was not at first appreciated and Bodhidharma s introduction 
to the devout but literary Emperor in Nanking was a fiasco. 
He offended his Majesty by curtly saying that he had acquired 
no merit by causing temples to be built and books to be tran 
scribed. Then, in answer to the question, what is the most im 
portant of the holy doctrines, he replied "where all is emptiness, 
nothing can be called holy." "Who," asked the astonished 
Emperor, "is he who thus replies to me?" "I do not know," 
said Bodhidharma. 

Not being able to come to any understanding with Wu-Ti, 
Bodhidharma went northwards, and is said to have crossed the 
Yang-tse standing on a reed, a subject frequently represented 
in Chinese art 3 . He retired to Lo-yang where he spent nine 
years in the Shao-Lin 4 temple gazing silently at a wall, whence 
he was popularly known as the wall-gazer. One legend says 
that he sat so long in contemplation that his legs fell off, and 

2 See chap. xxin. p. 95, and chap. XLV below (on schools of Chinese Buddhism), 
for more about Bodhidharma. The earliest Chinese accounts of him seem to be those 
contained in the Liang and Wei annals. But one of the most popular and fullest 
accounts is to be found in the Wu Teng Hui Yuan (first volume) printed at Kushan 
near Fuchow. 

3 His portraits are also frequent both in China and Japan (sec Ostasiat. Ztsfl 
1912, p. 226) and the strongly marked features attributed to him may j>erhapa 
represent a tradition of his personal appearance, which is entirely un-Chinese. 
An elaborate study of Bodhidharma written in Japanese is noticed in B.E.F.E.O. 
1911, p. 457. 


a kind of legless doll which is a favourite plaything in Japan is 
still called by his name. But according to another tale he 
preserved his legs. He wished to return to India but died in 
China. When Sung Ytin, the traveller mentioned above, was 
returning from India, he met him in a mountain pass bare 
footed and carrying one sandal in his hand 1 . When this was 
reported, his coffin was opened and was found to contain 
nothing but the other sandal which was long preserved as a 
precious relic in the Shao-Lin temple. 

Wu-Ti adopted many of the habits of a bonze. He was a 
strict vegetarian, expounded the scriptures in public and wrote 
a work on ritual. He thrice retired into a monastery and wore 
the dress of a Bhikkhu. These retirements were apparently of 
short duration and his ministers twice redeemed him by heavy 

In 538 a hair of the Buddha was sent by the king of Fu-nan 
and received with great ceremony. In the next year a mission 
was despatched to Magadha to obtain Sanskrit texts. It returned 
in 546 with a large collection of manuscripts and accompanied 
by the learned Paramartha who spent twenty years in trans 
lating them 2 . Wu-Ti, in his old age, became stricter. All luxury 
was suppressed at Court, but he himself always wore full dress 
and showed the utmost politeness, even to the lowest officials. 
He was so reluctant to inflict the punishment of death that 
crime increased. In 547 he became a monk for the third time 
and immediately afterwards the events connected with Hou- 
Ching (briefly sketched above) began to trouble the peace of 
his old age. During the siege of Nanking he was obliged to 
depart from his vegetarian diet and eat eggs. When he was told 
that his capital was taken he merely said, "I obtained the 
kingdom through my own efforts and through me it has been 
lost. So I need not complain." 

Hou-Ching proceeded to the palace, but 3 , overcome with awe, 
knelt down before Wu-Ti who merely said, "I am afraid you 
must be fatigued by the trouble it has cost you to destroy my 
kingdom." Hou-Ching was ashamed and told his officers that 

1 The legend does not fit in well with chronology since Sung-Yiin is said to have 
returned from India in 522. 

2 See Takakusu in J.E.A.S. 1905, p. 33. 
8 Mailla, Hist. Gdn. de la Chine, p. 369. 


he had never felt such fear before and would never dare to see 
Wu-Ti again. Nevertheless, the aged Emperor was treated 
with indignity and soon died of starvation. His end, though 
melancholy, was peaceful compared with that in store for Hou- 
Ching who, after two years of fighting and murdering, assumed 
the imperial title, but immediately afterwards was defeated and 
slain. The people ate his body in the streets of Nanking and his 
own wife is said to have swallowed mouthfuls of his flesh. 

One of Wu-Ti s sons, Yiian-Ti, who reigned from 552 to 555, 
inherited his father s temper and fate with this difference that 
he was a Taoist, not a Buddhist. He frequently resided in the 
temples of that religion, studied its scriptures and expounded 
them to his people. A great scholar, he had accumulated 140,000 
volumes, but when it was announced to him in his library that 
the troops of Wei were marching on his capital, he yielded with 
out resistance and burnt his books, saying that they had proved 
of no use in this extremity. 

This alternation of imperial patronage in the south may have 
been the reason why Wen Hsiian Ti, the ruler of Northern Ch i 1 , 
and for the moment perhaps the most important personage in 
China, summoned Buddhist and Taoist priests to a discussion 
in 555. Both religions could not be true, he said, and one must 
be superfluous. After hearing the arguments of both he decided 
in favour of Buddhism and ordered the Taoists to become bonzes 
on pain of death. Only four refused and were executed. 

Under the short Ch en dynasty (557-589) the position of 
Buddhism continued favourable. The first Emperor, a mild and 
intelligent sovereign, though circumstances obliged him to put 
a great many people out of the way, retired to a monastery after 
reigning for two years. But in the north there was a temporary 
reaction. Wu-Ti, of the Northern Chou dynasty 2 , first of all 
defined the precedence of the three religions as Confucianism, 
Taoism, Buddhism and then, in 575, prohibited the two latter, 
ordering temples to be destroyed and priests to return to the 
world. But as usual the persecution was not of long duration. 
Five years later Wu-Ti s son withdrew his father s edict and 
in 582, the founder of the Sui dynasty, gave the population 
permission to become monks. He may be said to have used 


Buddhism as his basis for restoring the unity of the Empire 
and in his old age he became devout. The Sui annals observe 
that Buddhist books had become more numerous under this 
dynasty than those of the Confucianists, and no less than three 
collections of the Tripitaka were made between 594 and 616. 

With the seventh century began the great Tang dynasty 
(620-907). Buddhism had now been known to the rulers of 
China for about 550 years. It began as a religion tolerated but 
still regarded as exotic and not quite natural for the sons of 
Han. It had succeeded in establishing itself as the faith of the 
majority among both Tartars and Chinese. The rivalry of 
Taoism was only an instance of that imitation which is the 
sincerest flattery. Though the opposition of the mandarins 
assumed serious proportions whenever they could induce an 
Emperor to share their views, yet the hostile attitude of the 
Government never lasted long and was not shared by the mass 
of the people. It is clear that the permissions to practise 
Buddhism which invariably followed close on the prohibitions 
were a national relief. Though Buddhism tended to mingle with 
Taoism and other indigenous ideas, the many translations of 
Indian works and the increasing intercourse between Chinese and 
Hindus had diffused a knowledge of its true tenets and practice. 

The T ang dynasty witnessed a triangular war between Con 
fucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. As a rule Confucianism 
attacked the other two as base superstitions but sometimes, as 
in the reign of Wu Tsung, Taoism seized a chance of being able 
to annihilate Buddhism. This war continued under the Northern 
Sung, though the character of Chinese Buddhism changed, for 
the Contemplative School, which had considerable affinities to 
Taoism, became popular at the expense of the T ien T ai. After 
the Northern Sung (except under the foreign Mongol dynasty) 
we feel that, though Buddhism was by no means dead and from 
time to time flourished exceedingly, yet Confucianism had 
established its claim to be the natural code and creed of the 
scholar and statesman. The Chinese Court remained a strange 
place to the end but scholarship and good sense had a large 
measure of success in banishing extravagance from art and 
literature. Yet, alas, the intellectual life of China lost more in 
fire and brilliancy than it gained in sanity. Probably the most 
critical times for literature and indeed for thought were those 


brief periods under the Sui and Tang 1 when Buddhist and Taoist 
books were accepted as texts for the public examinations and 
the last half century of the Northern Sung, when the educational 
reforms of Wang An Shih were intermittently in force. The 
innovations were cancelled in all cases. Had they lasted, 
Chinese style and mentality might have been different. 

The T ang dynasty, though on the whole favourable to 
Buddhism, and indeed the period of its greatest prosperity, 
opened with a period of reaction. To the founder, Kao Tsu, 
is attributed the saying that Confucianism is as necessary to 
the Chinese as wings to a bird or water to a fish. The imperial 
historiographer Fu I 2 presented to his master a memorial 
blaming Buddhism because it undervalued natural relationships 
and urging that monks and nuns should be compelled to marry. 
He was opposed by Hsiao Yii 3 , who declared that hell was made 
for such people as his opponent an argument common to many 
religions. The Emperor followed on the whole advice of Fu I. 
Magistrates were ordered to inquire into the lives of monks and 
nuns. Those found pure and sincere were collected in the large 
establishments. The rest were ordered to return to the world 
and the smaller religious houses were closed. Kao Tsu abdicated 
in 627 but his son Tai Tsung continued his religious policy, and 
the new Empress was strongly anti-Buddhist, for when mortally 
ill she forbade her son to pray for her recovery in Buddhist 
shrines. Yet the Emperor cannot have shared these sentiments 
at any rate towards the end of his reign 4 . He issued an edict 
allowing every monastery to receive five new monks and the 

1 See Biot, Hist, de ^instruction publique en Chine, pp. 289, 313. 

a / jffiZffi. Is celebrated in Chinese history as one of the greatest opponents 

of Buddhism. He collected all the objections to it in 10 books and warned his son 
against it on his death bed. Giles, Biog. Diet. 589. 

8 IsJra. An important minister and apparently a man of talent but of 

yiTn WP 

ungovernable and changeable temper. In 639 he obtained the Emperor s leave to 
become a priest but soon left his monastery. The Emperor ordered him to be 
canonized under the name Pure but Narrow. Giles, Biog. Diet. 722. The monk 

Fa-Lin C also attacked the views of Fu I in two treatises which have been 

incorporated in the Chinese Tripitaka. See Nanjio, Cat. Nos. 1500, 1501. 

4 Subsequently a story grew up that his soul had visited hell during a prolonged 
fainting fit after which he recovered and became a devout Buddhist. See chap, xi 
of the Romance called Hsi-yu-chi, a fantastic travesty of Hsiian Chuang s travels, 
and Wieger, Textes Historiques, p. 1585. 


celebrated journey of Hsiian Chuang 1 was made in his reign. 
When the pilgrim returned from India, he was received with 
public honours and a title was conferred on him. Learned monks 
were appointed to assist him in translating the library he had 
brought back and the account of his travels was presented to 
the Emperor who also wrote a laudatory preface to his version 
of the Prajnaparamita. It was in this reign also that Nestorian 
missionaries first appeared in China and were allowed to settle 
in the capital. Diplomatic relations were maintained with India. 
The Indian Emperor Harsha sent an envoy in 641 and two 
Chinese missions were despatched in return. The second, led 
by Wang Hsiian-Ts e 2 , did not arrive until after the death of 
Harsha when a usurper had seized the throne. Wang Hsiian- 
Ts e collected a small army in Tibet, dethroned the usurper and 
brought him as a prisoner to China. 

The latter half of the seventh century is dominated by the 
figure of the Dowager Empress Wu, the prototype of the cele 
brated lady who took charge of China s fate in our own day and, 
like her, superhuman in decision and unscrupulousness, yet 
capable of inspiring loyalty. She was a concubine of the Emperor 
Tai Tsung and when he died in 649 lived for a short time as a 
Buddhist nun. The eventful life of Wu Hou, who was at least 
successful in maintaining order at home and on the frontiers, 
belongs to the history of China rather than of Buddhism. She 
was not an ornament of the faith nor an example of its principles, 
but, mindful of the protection it had once afforded her, she gave 
it her patronage even to the extent of making a bonze named 
Huai I 3 the minister of her mature passions when she was nearly 

1 ^-5*^ . This name has been transliterated in an extraordinary number of 
ways. See B.E.F.E.O. 1905, pp. 424-430. Giles gives Hsiian Chuang in his Chinese 
Dictionary, but Hsiian Tsang in his Biographical Dictionary. Probably the latter is 
more correct. Not only is the pronunciation of the characters variable, but the 

character j^T was tabooed as being part of the Emperor K ang Hsi s personal 
name and ~TQ substituted for it. Hence the spelling Yuan Chuang. 

2 ^ jfejp[. See Vin cent Smith, Early History of India, pp. 326-327, and 
Giles, Biog. Diet., s.v. Wang Hsiian-T se. This worthy appears to have gone to 
India again in 657 to offer robes at the holy places. 

3 tPI ^ ome ^ ^ ne principal statues in the caves of Lung-men were made 
at her expense, but other parts of these caves seem to date from at least 500 A.D. 
Chavannes, Mission Archeol. tome i, deuxieme partie. 


seventy years old. A magnificent temple, at which 10,000 men 
worked daily, was built for him, but the Empress was warned 
that he was collecting a body of vigorous monks nominally for 
its service, but really for political objects. She ordered these 
persons to be banished. Huai I was angry and burnt the temple. 
The Empress at first merely ordered it to be rebuilt, but finding 
that Huai I was growing disrespectful, she had him assassinated. 

We hear that the Mahamegha-sutra 1 was presented to her 
and circulated among the people with her approval. About 690 
she assumed divine honours and accommodated these preten 
sions to Buddhism by allowing herself to be styled Mai trey a or 
Kuan -y in. After her death at the age of 80, there does not appear 
to have been any religious change, for two monks were appointed 
to high office and orders were issued that Buddhist and Taoist 
temples should be built in every Department. But the earlier 
part of the reign of Hsiian Tsung 2 marks a temporary reaction. 
It was represented to him that rich families wasted their 
substance on religious edifices and that the inmates were well- 
to-do persons desirous of escaping the burdens of public service. 
He accordingly forbade the building of monasteries, making of 
images and copying of sutras, and 12,000 monks were ordered 
to return to the world. In 725 he ordered a building known as 
"Hall of the Assembled Spirits" to be renamed "Hall of As 
sembled Worthies," because spirits were mere fables. 

In the latter part of his life he became devout though ad 
dicted to Taoism rather than Buddhism. But he must have 
outgrown his anti-Buddhist prejudices, for in 730 the seventh 
collection of the Tripitaka was made under his auspices. Many 
poets of this period such as Su Chin and the somewhat later 
Liu Tsung Yuan 3 were Buddhists and the paintings of the great 
Wu Tao-tzu and Wang-wei (painter as well as poet) glowed with 
the inspiration of the T ien-t ai teaching. In 740 there were 
in the city of Ch ang-An alone sixty-four monasteries and 

1 ^||L*$. Ta-Yun-Ching. See J.A. 1913, p. 149. The late Dowager Empress 

also was fond of masquerading as Kuan-yin but it does not appear that the per 
formance was meant to be taken seriously. 

2 "That romantic Chinese reign of Genso (713-756) which is the real absolu 
culmination of Chinese genius." Fenollosa, Epochs of Chinese and Japanese ar 
I. 102. 


twenty-seven nunneries. A curious light is thrown on the in 
consistent and composite character of Chinese religious senti 
ment as noticeable to-day as it was twelve hundred years ago 
by the will of Yao Ch ung 1 a statesman who presented a 
celebrated anti-Buddhist memorial to this Emperor. In his 
will he warns his children solemnly against the creed which he 
hated and yet adds the following direction. When I am dead, 
on no account perform for me the ceremonies of that mean 
religion. But if you feel unable to follow orthodoxy in every 
respect, then yield to popular custom and from the first seventh 
day after my death until the last (i.e. seventh) seventh day, let 
mass be celebrated by the Buddhist clergy seven times: and 
when, as these masses require, you must offer gifts to me, use 
the clothes which I wore in life and do not use other valuable 

In 751 a mission was sent to the king of Ki-pin 2 . The staff 
included Wu-K ung 3 , also known as Dharmadhatu, who re 
mained some time in India, took the vows and ultimately 
returned to China with many books and relics. It is probable 
that in this and the following centuries Hindu influence reached 
the outlying province of Yunnan directly through Burma 4 . 

Letters, art and pageantry made the Court of Hsiian Tsung 
brilliant, but the splendour faded and his reign ended tragically 
in disaster and rebellion. The T ang dynasty seemed in danger 
of collapse. But it emerged successfully from these troubles 
and continued for a century and a half. During the whole of 
this period the Emperors with one exception 5 were favourable 
to Buddhism, and the latter half of the eighth century marks 
in Buddhist history an epoch of increased popularity among the 
masses but also the spread of ritual and doctrinal corruption, 
for it is in these years that its connection with ceremonies for 
the repose and honour of the dead became more intimate. 


pT| -C** 

2 P*ft >^ ^ e mean * n & f this name appears to vary at different times. At this 
period it is probably equivalent to Kapisa or N.E. Afghanistan. 

4 SeeB.E.F.E.O. 1904, p. 161. This does not exclude the possibility of an opposite 
current, viz. Chinese Buddhism flowing into Burma. 
6 Wu-Tsung, 841-847. 

XLm] CHINA 263 

These middle and later T ang Emperors were not exclusive 
Buddhists. According to the severe judgment of their own 
officials, they were inclined to unworthy and outlandish 
superstitions. Many of them were under the influence of 
eunuchs, magicians and soothsayers, and many of those who 
were not assassinated died from taking the Taoist medicine 
called Elixir of Immortality. Yet it was not a period of deca 
dence and dementia. It was for China the age of Augustus, not 
of Heliogabalus. Art and literature flourished and against Han- 
Yii, the brilliant adversary of Buddhism, may be set Liu Tsung 
Yuan 1 , a writer of at least equal genius who found in it his 
inspiration. A noble school of painting grew up in the Buddhist 
monasteries and in a long line of artists may be mentioned the 
great name of Wu Tao-tzu, whose religious pictures such as 
Kuan-yin, Purgatory and the death of the Buddha obtained 
for him a fame which is still living. Among the streams which 
watered this paradise of art and letters should doubtless be 
counted the growing importance of Central and Western Asia 
in Chinese policy and the consequent influx of their ideas. In 
the mid T ang period Manichseism, Nestorianism and Zoro- 
astrianism all were prevalent in China. The first was the religion 
of the Uigurs. So long as the Chinese had to keep on good terms 
with this tribe Manichaeism was respected, but when they were 
defeated by the Kirghiz and became unimportant, it was abruptly 
suppressed (843). In this period, too, Tibet became of great 
importance for the Chinese. Their object was to keep open the 
passes leading to Ferghana and India. But the Tibetans some 
times combined with the Arabs, who had conquered Turkestan, 
to close them and in 763 they actually sacked Chang An. China 
endeavoured to defend herself by making treaties with the 
Indian border states, but in 175 the Arabs inflicted a disastrous 
defeat on her troops. A treaty of peace was subsequently made 
with Tibet 2 . 

When Su-Tsung (756-762), the son of Hsuan-Tsung, was 
safely established on the throne, he began to show his devotion 
to Buddhism. He installed a chapel in the Palace which was 

1 " Liu-Tsung- Yuan has left behind him much that for purity of style and felicity 
of expression has rarely been surpassed," Giles, Chinese Literature, p. 191. 

2 Apparently in 783 A.D. See Waddell s articles on Ancient Historical Edicts 
at Lhasa in J.R.A.S. 1909, 1910, 1911. 


served by several hundred monks and caused his eunuchs and 
guards to dress up as Bodhisattvas and Genii. His ministers, 
who were required to worship these maskers, vainly remon 
strated as also when he accepted a sort of Sibylline book from 
a nun who alleged that she had ascended to heaven and received 
it there. 

The next Emperor, Tai-Tsung, was converted to Buddhism 
by his Minister Wang Chin 1 , a man of great abilities who was 
subsequently sentenced to death for corruption, though the 
Emperor commuted the sentence to banishment. Tai-Tsung 
expounded the scriptures in public himself and the sacred books 
were carried from one temple to another in state carriages with 
the same pomp as the sovereign. In 768 the eunuch Yii Chao-fin 2 
built a great Buddhist temple dedicated to the memory of the 
Emperor s deceased mother. In spite of his minister s remon 
strances, His Majesty attended the opening and appointed 
1000 monks and nuns to perform masses for the dead annually 
on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. This anniversary 
became generally observed as an All Souls Day, and is still 
one of the most popular festivals in China. Priests both Buddhist 
and Taoist recite prayers for the departed, rice is scattered 
abroad to feed hungry ghosts and clothes are burnt to be used 
by them in the land of shadows. Large sheds are constructed 
in which are figures representing scenes from the next world 
and the evening is enlivened by theatricals, music and fire 
works 3 . 

The establishment of this festival was due to the celebrated 
teacher Amogha (Pu-k ung), and marks the official recognition 
by Chinese Buddhism of those services for the dead which have 
rendered it popular at the cost of forgetting its better aspects. 
Amogha was a native of Ceylon (or, according to others, of 
Northern India), who arrived in China in 719 with his teacher 
Vajrabodhi. After the latter s death he revisited India and 
Ceylon in search of books and came back in 746. He wished to 
return to his own country, but permission was refused and 
until his death in 774 he was a considerable personage at Court, 

8 See Eitcl, Handbook of Chinese. Buddhism, p. 185 s.v. Ullambana, a somewhat 
doubtful word, apparently rendered into Chinese as Yu-lan-p en. 

XLiiil CHINA 265 

receiving high rank and titles. The Chinese Tripitaka contains 
108 translations 1 ascribed to him, mostly of a tan trie character, 
though to the honour of China it must be said that the erotic 
mysticism of some Indian tantras never found favour there. 
Amogha is a considerable, though not auspicious, figure in the 
history of Chinese Buddhism, and, so far as such changes can 
be the work of one man, on him rests the responsibility of 
making it become in popular estimation a religion specially 
concerned with funeral rites 2 . 

Some authors 3 try to prove that the influx of Nestorianism 
under the T ang dynasty had an important influence on the 
later development of Buddhism in China and Japan and in 
particular that it popularized these services for the dead. But 
this hypothesis seems to me unproved and unnecessary. Such 
ceremonies were an essential part of Chinese religion and no 
faith could hope to spread, if it did not countenance them : they 
are prominent in Hinduism and not unknown to Pali Buddhism 4 . 
Further the ritual used in China and Japan has often only a 
superficial resemblance to Christian masses for the departed. 
Part of it is magical and part of it consists in acquiring merit 
by the recitation of scriptures which have no special reference 
to the dead. This merit is then formally transferred to them. 
Doubtless Nestorianism, in so far as it was associated with 
Buddhism, tended to promote the worship of Bodhisattvas and 
prayers addressed directly to them, but this tendency existed 
independently and the Nestorian monument indicates not that 
Nestorianism influenced Buddhism but that it abandoned the 
doctrine of the atonement. 

In 819 a celebrated incident occurred. The Emperor Hsien- 
Tsung had been informed that at the Fa-men monastery in 
Shen-si a bone of the Buddha was preserved which every thirty 
years exhibited miraculous powers. As this was the auspicious 
year, he ordered the relic to be brought in state to the capital 

1 Sec Nanjio Catalogue, pp. 445-448. 

2 He is also said to have introduced the images of the Four Kings which arc now 
found in every temple. A portrait of him by Li Chien is reproduced in Tajima s 
Mailer pieces, vol. vm, plate ix. The artist was perhaps his contemporary. 

3 E.g. Sacki, The Nestor ian Monument in China, 1916. See also above, p. 217. 

* See Khuddaka-Patha, 7; Peta Vatthu, 1, 5 and the commentary; Milinda 
Panha, iv. 8, 29; and for modern practices my chapter on Siam, and Copleston, 
Buddhism, p. 445. 


and lodged in the Imperial Palace, after which it was to make 
the round of the monasteries in the city. This proceeding called 
forth an animated protest from Han-Yii 1 , one of the best known 
authors and statesmen then living, who presented a memorial, 
still celebrated as a masterpiece. The following extract will give 
an idea of its style. "Your Servant is well aware that your 
Majesty does not do this (give the bone such a reception) in 
the vain hope of deriving advantage therefrom but that in the 
fulness of our present plenty there is a desire to comply with 
the wishes of the people in the celebration at the capital of 
this delusive mummery.... For Buddha was a barbarian. His 
language was not the language of China. His clothes were of 
an alien cut. He did not utter the maxims of our ancient rulers 
nor conform to the customs which they have handed down. 
He did not appreciate the bond between prince and minister, 
the tie between father and son. Had this Buddha come to our 
capital in the flesh, your Majesty might have received him with 
a few words of admonition, giving him a banquet and a suit 
of clothes, before sending him out of the country with an escort 
of soldiers. 

" But what are the facts? The bone of a man long since dead 
and decomposed is to be admitted within the precincts of the 
Imperial Palace. Confucius said, respect spiritual beings but 
keep them at a distance. And so when princes of old paid 
visits of condolence, it was customary to send a magician in 
advance with a peach-rod in his hand, to expel all noxious 
influences before the arrival of his master. Yet now your 
Majesty is about to introduce without reason a disgusting 
object, personally taking part in the proceedings without the 
intervention of the magician or his wand. Of the officials not 
one has raised his voice against it : of the Censors 2 not one has 
pointed out the enormity of such an act. Therefore your servant, 
overwhelmed with shame for the Censors, implores your Majesty 
that these bones may be handed over for destruction by fire 

Some native critics, however, have doubted the authenticity of the 

received text and the version inserted in the Official History seems to be a summary. 
See Wieger, Textes Historiques, vol. in. pp. 1726 ff., and Giles, Chinese Literature, 
pp. 200 ff . 

2 The officials whose duty it was to remonstrate with the Emperor if he acted 


or water, whereby the root of this great evil may be exter 
minated for all time and the people may know how much the 
wisdom of your Majesty surpasses that of ordinary men 1 ." 

The Emperor became furious when he read the memorial 
and wished to execute its author on the spot. But Han-Yii s 
many friends saved him and the sentence was commuted to 
honourable banishment as governor of a distant town. Shortly 
afterwards the Emperor died, not of Buddhism, but of the elixir 
of immortality which made him so irritable that his eunuchs 
put him out of the way. Han-Yti was recalled but died the next 
year. Among his numerous works was one called Yuan Tao, 
much of which was directed against non-Confucian forms of 
religion. It is still a thesaurus of arguments for the opponents 
of Buddhism and, let it be added, of Christianity. 

It is not surprising that the prosperity of the Buddhist 
church should have led to another reaction, but it came not 
so much from the literary and sceptical class as from Taoism 
which continued to enjoy the favour of the T ang Emperors, 
although they died one after another of drinking the elixir. The 
Emperor Wu-Tsung was more definitely Taoist than his pre 
decessors. In 843 he suppressed Manicheeism and in 845, at 
the instigation of his Taoist advisers, he dealt Buddhism the 
severest blow which it had yet received. In a trenchant edict 2 
he repeated the now familiar arguments that it is an alien 
and maleficent superstition, unknown under the ancient and 
glorious dynasties and injurious to the customs and morality of 
the nation. Incidentally he testifies to its influence and popu 
larity for he complains of the crowds thronging the temples 
which eclipse the imperial palaces in splendour and the in 
numerable monks and nuns supported by the contributions of 
the people. Then, giving figures, he commands that 4600 great 
temples and 40,000 smaller rural temples be demolished, that 
their enormous 3 landed property be confiscated, that 260,500 
monks and nuns be secularized and 150,000 temple slaves 4 set 
free. These statistics are probably exaggerated and in any case 
the Emperor had barely time to execute his drastic orders, 

1 Giles, Chinese Literature, pp. 201, 202 somewhat abbreviated. 

2 See Wieger, Textes Historiques, vol. m. pp. 1744 ff. 

8 "Thousands of ten-thousands of Ch ing." A Ch ing^ 15-13 acres. 
4 Presumably similar to the temple slaves of Camboja, etc. 

E. ra. 18 


though all despatch was used on account of the private fortunes 
which could be amassed incidentally by the executive. 

As the Confucian chronicler of his doings observes, he 
suppressed Buddhism on the ground that it is a superstition 
but encouraged Taoism which is no better. Indeed the impartial 
critic must admit that it is much worse, at any rate for Emperors. 
Undeterred by the fate of his predecessors Wu-Tsung began to 
take the elixir of immortality. He suffered first from nervous 
irritability, then from internal pains, which were explained as 
due to the gradual transformation of his bones, and at the 
beginning of 846 he became dumb. No further explanation of 
his symptoms was then given him and his uncle Hsiian Tsung 
was raised to the throne. His first act was to revoke the anti- 
Buddhist edict, the Taoist priests who had instigated it were 
put to death, the Emperor and his ministers vied in the work 
of reconstruction and very soon things became again much as 
they were before this great but brief tribulation. Nevertheless, 
in 852 the Emperor received favourably a memorial complaining 
of the Buddhist reaction and ordered that all monks and nuns 
must obtain special permission before taking orders. He was 
beginning to fall under Taoist influence and it is hard to repress 
a smile on reading that seven years later he died of the elixir. 
His successor I-Tsung (860-874), who died at the age of 30, was 
an ostentatious and dissipated Buddhist. In spite of the re 
monstrances of his ministers he again sent for the sacred bone 
from Fa-men and received it with even more respect than his 
predecessor had shown, for he met it at the Palace gate and 
bowed before it. 

During the remainder of the T ang dynasty there is little 
of importance to recount about Buddhism. It apparently 
suffered no reverses, but history is occupied with the struggle 
against the Tartars. The later T ang Emperors entered into 
alliance with various frontier tribes, but found it hard to keep 
them in the position of vassals. The history of China from the 
tenth to the thirteenth centuries is briefly as follows. The T ang 
dynasty collapsed chiefly owing to the incapacity of the later 
Emperors and was succeeded by a troubled period in which five 
short dynasties founded by military adventurers, three of whom 
were of Turkish race, rose and fell in 53 years 1 . In 960 the 

1 One Emperor of this epoch, Shih-Tsung of the later Chou dynasty, suppressed 


Sung dynasty united the Chinese elements in the Empire, 
but had to struggle against the Khitan Tartars in the north 
east and against the kingdom of Hsia in the north-west. 
With the twelfth century appeared the Kins or Golden 
Tartars, who demolished the power of the Khitans in alliance 
with the Chinese but turned against their allies and conquered 
all China north of the Yang-tze and continually harassed, 
though they did not capture, the provinces to the south of it 
which constituted the reduced empire of the Sungs. But their 
power waned in its turn before the Mongols, who, under Chinggiz 
Khan and Ogotai, conquered the greater part of northern Asia 
and eastern Europe. In 1232 the Sung Emperor entered into 
alliance with the Mongols against the Kins, with the ultimate 
result that though the Kins were swept away, Khubilai, 
the Khan of the Mongols, became Emperor of all China in 

The dynasties of T ang and Sung mark two great epochs in 
the history of Chinese art, literature and thought, but whereas 
the virtues and vices of the T ang may be summed up as genius 
and extravagance, those of the Sung are culture and tameness. 
But this summary judgment does not do justice to the painters, 
particularly the landscape painters, of the Sung and it is 
noticeable that many of the greatest masters, including Li 
Lung-Mien 1 , were obviously inspired by Buddhism. The school 
which had the greatest influence on art and literature was the 
Ch an 2 or contemplative sect better known by its Japanese 
name Zen. Though founded by Bodhidharma it did not win 
the sympathy and esteem of the cultivated classes until the 
Sung period. About this time the method of block-printing 
was popularized and there began a steady output of compre 
hensive histories, collected works, encyclopaedias and biographies 
which excelled anything then published in Europe. Antiquarian 
research and accessible editions of classical writers were favour- 
monasteries and coined bronze images into currency, declaring that Buddha, who in 
so many births had sacrificed himself for mankind, would have no objection to his 
statues being made useful. But in the South Buddhism flourished in the province 

of Fukien under the princes of Min Rjn and the dynasty which called itself 
Southern T ang. 

1 2 . See Kokka No. 309, 1916. 2 ji. 


able to Confucianism, which had always been the religion of 
the literati. 

It is not surprising that the Emperors of this literary dynasty 
were mostly temperate in expressing their religious emotions. 
T ai-Tsu, the founder, forbade cremation and remonstrated with 
the Prince of T ang, who was a fervent Buddhist. Yet he cannot 
have objected to religion in moderation, for the first printed 
edition of the Tripitaka was published in his reign (972) and 
with a preface of his own. The early and thorough application 
of printing to this gigantic Canon is a proof if any were needed 
of the popular esteem for Buddhism. 

Nor did this edition close the work of translation : 275 later 
translations, made under the Northern Sung, are still extant and 
religious intercourse with India continued. The names and 
writings of many Hindu monks who settled in China are pre 
served and Chinese continued to go to India. Still on the whole 
there was a decrease in the volume of religious literature after 
900 A.D. 1 In the twelfth century the change was still more 
remarkable. Nanjio does not record a single translation made 
under the Southern Sung and it is the only great dynasty which 
did not revise the Tripitaka. 

The second Sung Emperor also, T ai Tsung, was not hostile, 
for he erected in the capital, at enormous expense, a stupa 
360 feet high to contain relics of the Buddha. The fourth 
Emperor, Jen-tsung, a distinguished patron of literature, whose 
reign was ornamented by a galaxy of scholars, is said to have 
appointed 50 youths to study Sanskrit but showed no particular 
inclination towards Buddhism. Neither does it appear to have 
been the motive power in the projects of the celebrated social 
reformer, Wang An-Shih. But the dynastic history says that 
he wrote a book full of Buddhist and Taoist fancies and, though 
there is nothing specifically Buddhist in his political and econo 
mic theories, it is clear from the denunciations against him that 
his system of education introduced Buddhist and Taoist subjects 
into the public examinations 2 . It is also clear that this system 
was favoured by those Emperors of the Northern Sung dynasty 
who were able to think for themselves. In 1087 it was abolished 

1 The decrease in translations is natural for by this time Chinese versions had 
been made of most works which had any claim to be translated. 

2 See Biot, IS instruction publique en Chine, p. 350. 


by the Empress Dowager acting as regent for the young Che 
Tsung, but as soon as he began to reign in his own right he 
restored it, and it apparently remained in force until the 
collapse of the dynasty in 1127. 

The Emperor Hui-Tsung (1101-1126) fell under the influence 
of a Taoist priest named Lin Ling-Su 1 . This young man had 
been a Buddhist novice in boyhood but, being expelled for 
misconduct, conceived a hatred for his old religion. Under his 
influence the Emperor not only reorganized Taoism, sanctioning 
many innovations and granting many new privileges, but also 
endeavoured to suppress Buddhism, not by persecution, but 
by amalgamation. By imperial decree the Buddha and his 
Arhats were enrolled in the Taoist pantheon: temples and 
monasteries were allowed to exist only on condition of de 
scribing themselves as Taoist and their inmates had the choice 
of accepting that name or of returning to the world. 

But there was hardly time to execute these measures, 
so rapid was the reaction. In less than a year the insolence of 
Lin Ling-Su brought about his downfall : the Emperor reversed 
his edict and, having begun by suppressing Buddhism, ended 
by oppressing Taoism. He was a painter of merit and perhaps 
the most remarkable artist who ever filled a throne. In art he 
probably drew no distinction between creeds and among the 
pictures ascribed to him and preserved in Japan are some of 
Buddhist subjects. But like Hsiian Tsung he came to a tragic 
end, and in 1126 was carried into captivity by the Kin Tartars 
among whom he died. 

Fear of the Tartars now caused the Chinese to retire south of 
the Yang-tse and Hang-chow was made the seat of Government. 
The century during which this beautiful city was the capital 
did not produce the greatest names in Chinese history, but it 
witnessed the perfection of Chinese culture, and the background 
of impending doom heightens the brilliancy of this literary and 
aesthetic life. Such a society was naturally eclectic in religion 
but Buddhism of the Ch an school enjoyed consideration and 
contributed many landscape painters to the roll of fame. But 
the most eminent and perhaps the most characteristic thinker 
of the period was Chu-Hsi (1130-1200), the celebrated com- 


mentator on Confucius who reinterpreted the master s writings 
to the satisfaction of succeeding ages though in his own life he 
aroused opposition as well as enthusiasm. Chu-Hsi studied 
Buddhism in his youth and some have detected its influence in 
his works, although on most important points he expressly 
condemned it. I do not see that there is much definite Buddhism 
in his philosophy, but if Mahay anism had never entered China 
this new Confucianism would probably never have arisen or 
would have taken another shape. Though the final result may 
be anti-Buddhist yet the topics chosen and the method of 
treatment suggest that the author felt it necessary to show that 
the Classics could satisfy intellectual curiosity and supply 
spiritual ideals just as well as this Indian religion. Much of his 
expositions is occupied with cosmology, and he accepts the 
doctrine of world periods, recurring in an eternal series of growth 
and decline : also he teaches not exactly transmigration but the 
transformation of matter into various living forms 1 . His ac 
counts of sages and saints point to ideals which have much in 
common with Arhats and Buddhas and, in dealing with the 
retribution of evil, he seems to admit that when the universe is 
working properly there is a natural Karma by which good or 
bad actions receive even in this life rewards in kind, but that 
in the present period of decline nature has become vitiated so 
that vice and virtue no longer produce appropriate results. 

Chu-Hsi had a celebrated controversy with Lu Chiu-Yuan 2 , a 
thinker of some importance who, like himself, is commemorated 
in the tablets of Confucian temples, although he was accused 
of Buddhist tendencies. He held that learning was not in 
dispensable and that the mind could in meditation rise above 
the senses and attain to a perception of the truth. Although he 
strenuously denied the charge of Buddhist leanings, it is clear 
that his doctrine is near in spirit to the mysticism of Bodhi- 
dharma and sets no store on the practical ethics and studious 
habits which are the essence of Confucianism. 

The attitude of the Yuan or Mongol dynasty (1280-1368) 
towards Buddhism was something new. Hitherto, whatever 
may have been the religious proclivities of individual Emperors, 

1 See Le Gall, Varields Sinologiqi(es,No.6 Tchou-Hi: Sa doctrine Son influence. 
Shanghai, 1894, pp. 90, 122. 

Compare the similar doctrines of Wang Yang-Ming. 


the Empire had been a Confucian institution. A body of official 
and literary opinion always strong and often overwhelmingly 
strong regarded imperial patronage of Buddhism or Taoism as 
a concession to the whims of the people, as an excrescence on 
the Son of Heaven s proper faith or even a perversion of it. 
But the Mongol Court had not this prejudice and Khubilai, 
like other members of his house 1 and like Akbar in India, was 
the patron of all the religions professed by his subjects. His 
real object was to encourage any faith which would humanize 
his rude Mongols. Buddhism was more congenial to them than 
Confucianism and besides, they had made its acquaintance 
earlier. Even before Khubilai became Emperor, one of his most 
trusted advisers was a Tibetan lama known as Pagspa, Bashpa 
or Pa-ssu-pa 2 . He received the title of Kuo-Shih, and after his 
death his brother succeeded to the same honours. 

Khubilai also showed favour to Mohammedans, Christians, 
Jews and Confucianists, but little to Taoists. This prejudice was 
doubtless due to the suggestions of his Buddhist advisers, for, 
as we have seen, there was often rivalry between the two reli 
gions and on two occasions at least (in the reigns of Hui Tsung 
and Wu Tsung) the Taoists made determined, if unsuccessful, 
attempts to destroy or assimilate Buddhism. Khubilai received 
complaints that the Taoists represented Buddhism as an off 
shoot of Taoism and that this objectionable perversion of 
truth and history was found in many of their books, particularly 
the Hua-Hu-Ching 3 . An edict was issued ordering all Taoist 
books to be burnt with the sole exception of the Tao-Te-Ching 
but it does not appear that the sect was otherwise persecuted. 

The Yuan dynasty was consistently favourable to Buddhism. 
Enormous sums were expended on subventions to monasteries, 
printing books and performing public ceremonies. Old restric 
tions were removed and no new ones were imposed. But the 
sect which was the special recipient of the imperial favour was 

1 E.g. his elder brother Mangku who showed favour to Buddhists, Moham 
medans and Nestorians alike. -He himself wished to obtain Christian teachers from 
the Pope, by the help of Marco Polo, but probably merely from curiosity. 

2 More accurately hPhags-pa. It is a title rather than a name, being the Tibetan 
equivalent of Arya. Khubilai seems to be the correct transcription of the Emperor s 
name. The Tibetan and Chinese transcriptions are Hvopilai and Hu-pi-lieh. 

3 For this curious work see B.E.F.E.O. 1908, p. 515, and J.A. 1913, i, pp. 116- 
132. For the destruction of Taoist books see Chavannes in T oung Poo, 1904, p. 366. 


not one of the Chinese schools but Lamaism, the form of 
Buddhism developed in Tibet, which spread about this time to 
northern China, and still exists there. It does not appear that 
in the Yuan period Lamaism and other forms of Buddhism 
were regarded as different sects 1 . A lamaist ecclesiastic was the 
hierarchical head of all Buddhists, all other religions being 
placed under the supervision of a special board. 

The Mongol Emperors paid attention to religious literature. 
Khubilai saw to it that the monasteries in Peking were well 
supplied with books and ordered the bonzes to recite them on 
stated days. A new collection of the Tripitaka (the ninth) was 
published 1285-87. In 1312, the Emperor Jen-tsung ordered 
further translations to be made into Mongol and later had the 
whole Tripitaka copied in letters of gold. It is noticeable that 
another Emperor, Cheng Tsung, had the Book of Filial Piety 
translated into Mongol and circulated together with a brief 
preface by himself. 

It is possible that the Buddhism of the Yuan dynasty was 
tainted with Saktism from which the Lama monasteries of 
Peking (in contrast to all other Buddhist sects in China) are 
not wholly free. The last Emperor, Shun-ti, is said to have 
witnessed indecent plays and dances in the company of Lamas 
and created a scandal which contributed to the downfall of 
the dynasty 2 . In its last years we hear of some opposition to 
Buddhism and of a reaction in favour of Confucianism, in conse 
quence of the growing numbers and pretensions of the Lamas. 

Whole provinces were under their control and Chinese 
historians dwell bitterly on their lawlessness. It was a common 
abuse for wealthy persons to induce a Lama to let their property 
be registered in his name and thus avoid all payment of taxes 
on the ground that priests were exempt from taxation by law 3 . 

The Mongols were driven out by the native Chinese dynasty 
known as Ming, which reigned from 1368 to 1644. It is not 

1 At the present day an ordinary Chinese regards a Lama as quite different from 
a Hoshang or Buddhist monk. 

2 The Yiian Emperors were no doubt fond of witnessing religious theatricals 
in the Palace. See for extracts front Chinese authors, New China Review, 1919, 
pp. G8 ff. Compare the performances of the T ang Emperor Su Tsung mentioned 

8 For the ecclesiastical abuses of the time see Kbppen, n. 103, and de Mailla, 
Hisloirc dc la Chine, ix. 475, 538. 


easy to point out any salient features in religious activity or 
thought during this period, but since the Ming claimed to 
restore Chinese civilization interrupted by a foreign invasion, 
it was natural that they should encourage Confucianism as 
interpreted by Chu-Hsi. Yet Buddhism, especially Lamaism, 
acquired a new political importance. Both for the Mings and 
for the earlier Manchu Emperors the Mongols were a serious 
and perpetual danger, and it was not until the eighteenth 
century that the Chinese Court ceased to be preoccupied by 
the fear that the tribes might unite and again overrun the 
Empire. But the Tibetan and Mongolian hierarchy had an 
extraordinary power over these wild horsemen and the Govern 
ment of Peking won and used their goodwill by skilful diplomacy, 
the favours shown being generally commensurate to the gravity 
of the situation. Thus when the Grand Lama visited Peking in 
1652 he was treated as an independent prince: in 1908 he was 
made to kneel. 

Few Ming Emperors showed much personal interest in 
religion and most of them were obviously guided by political 
considerations. They wished on the one hand to conciliate the 
Church and on the other to prevent the clergy from becoming 
too numerous or influential. Hence very different pictures may 
be drawn according as we dwell on the favourable or restrictive 
edicts which were published from time to time. Thus T ai-Tsu, 
the founder of the dynasty, is described by one authority as 
always sympathetic to Buddhists and by another as a crowned 
persecutor 1 . He had been a bonze himself in his youth but left 
the cloister for the adventurous career which conducted him 
to the throne. It is probable that he had an affectionate re 
collection of the Church which once sheltered him, but also a 
knowledge of its weaknesses and this knowledge moved him to 
publish restrictive edicts as to the numbers and qualifications of 
monks. On the other hand he attended sermons, received monks 
in audience and appointed them as tutors to his sons. He revised 
the hierarchy and gave appropriate titles to its various grades. 
He also published a decree ordering that all monks should study 

1 See Wieger, Texte* Historiques, in. p. 2013, and De Groot, Sectarianism and 
Religious Persecution in China, I. p. 82. He is often called Hung Wu which is strictly 
speaking the title of his reign. He was certainly capable of changing his mind, for 
he degraded Mencius from his position in Confucian temples one year and restored 
him the next. 


three sutras (Lankavatara, Prajnaparamita and Vajracchedika), 
and that three brief commentaries on these works should be 
compiled (see Nanjio s Catalogue, 1613-15). 

It is in this reign that we first hear of the secular clergy, 
that is to say, persons who acted as priests but married and 
did not live in monasteries. Decrees against them were issued 
in 1394 and 1412, but they continued to increase. It is not clear 
whether their origin should be sought in a desire to combine the 
profits of the priesthood with the comforts of the world or in 
an attempt to evade restrictions as to the number of monks. 
In later times this second motive was certainly prevalent, but 
the celibacy of the clergy is not strictly insisted on by Lamaists 
and a lax observance of monastic rules 1 was common under 
the Mongol dynasty. 

The third Ming Emperor, Ch eng-tsu 2 , was educated by a 
Buddhist priest of literary tastes named Yao Kuang-Hsiao 3 , 
whom he greatly respected and promoted to high office. Never 
theless he enacted restrictions respecting ordination and on one 
occasion commanded that 1800 young men who presented 
themselves to take the vows should be enrolled in the army 
instead. His prefaces and laudatory verses were collected in a 
small volume and included in the eleventh collection of the 
Tripitaka 4 , called the Northern collection, because it was printed 
at Peking. It was published with a preface of his own composition 
and he wrote another to the work called the Liturgy of Kuan- 
yin 5 , and a third introducing selected memoirs of various 
remarkable monks 6 . His Empress had a vision in which she im 
agined a sutra was revealed to her and published the same with 
an introduction. He was also conspicuously favourable to the 
Tibetan clergy. In 1403 he sent his head eunuch to Tibet to 
invite the presence of Tsoh-kha-pa, who refused to come himself 

1 See de Mailla, Histoire de la Chine, ix. p. 470. 

2 Often called Yung-Lo which is strictly the title of his reign. 

4 See Nanjio, Cat. 1613-16. 

6 See Beal, Catena of Buddhist Scriptures, p. 398. The Emperor says: "So we, 
the Ruler of the Empire... do hereby bring before men a mode for attaining to the 
condition of supreme Wisdom. We therefore earnestly exhort all men... carefully 
to study the directions of this work and faithfully to follow them." 

8 Nanjio, Cat. 1620. See also 16. 1032 and 1657 for the Empress s sutra. 

XLin] CHINA 277 

but sent a celebrated Lama called Halima 1 . On arriving at the 
capital Halima was ordered to say masses for the Emperor s 
relatives. These ceremonies were attended by supernatural 
manifestations and he received as a recognition of his powers 
the titles of Prince of the Great Precious Law and Buddha of 
the Western Paradise 2 . His three principal disciples were styled 
Kuo Shih, and, agreeably to the precedent established under 
the Yuan dynasty, were made the chief prelates of the whole 
Buddhist Church. Since this time the Red or Tibetan Clergy 
have been recognized as having precedence over the Grey or 

In this reign the Chinese made a remarkable attempt to 
assert their authority in Ceylon. In 1405 a mission was sent 
with offerings to the Sacred Tooth and when it was ill received 
a second mission despatched in 1407 captured the king of 
Ceylon and carried him off as a prisoner to China. Ceylon paid 
tribute for fifty years, but it does not appear that these pro 
ceedings had much importance for religion 3 . 

In the reigns of Ying Tsung and Ching-Ti 4 (1436-64) 
large numbers of monks were ordained, but, as on previous 
occasions, the great increase of candidates led to the imposition 
of restrictions and in 1458 an edict was issued ordering that 
ordinations should be held only once a year. The influence of 
the Chief Eunuchs during this period was great, and two suc 
cessive holders of this post, Wang-Chen and Hsing-An 5 , were 
both devoted Buddhists and induced the Emperors whom they 
served to expend enormous sums on building monasteries and 
performing ceremonies at which the Imperial Court were 

1 Or Kalima El^y \j mk m In Tibetan Karma de bshin gshegs-pa. He was the 

fifth head of the Karma-pa school. See Chandra Das s dictionary, s.v., where a 
reference is given to kLong-rdol-gsung-hbum. It is noticeable that the Karma-pa 
is one of the older and more Tantric sects. 

2 AW3:> BS^^^ltffif^- YUan Shih K/ai p fefixed to 

this latter the four characters 

3 See Yule, Cathay and the Way Thither, pp. 75 ff. 

4 When Ying Tsung was carried away by the Mongols in 1449 his brother 
Ching-Ti was made Emperor. Though Ying Tsung was sent back in 1450, he was 
not able to oust Ching-Ti from the throne till 1457. 


The end of the fifteenth century is filled by two reigns, Hsien 
Tsung and Hsiao Tsung. The former fell under the influence of 
his favourite concubine Wan and his eunuchs to such an extent 
that, in the latter part of his life, he ceased to see his ministers 
and the chief eunuch became the real ruler of China. It is also 
mentioned both in 1468 and 1483 that he was in the hands of 
Buddhist priests who instructed him in secret doctrines and 
received the title of Kuo-Shih and other distinctions. His son 
Hsiao Tsung reformed these abuses: the Palace was cleansed: 
the eunuchs and priests were driven out and some were executed : 
Taoist books were collected and burnt. The celebrated writer 
Wang Yang Ming 1 lived in this reign. He defended and illus 
trated the doctrine of Lu Chin-Yuan, namely that truth can 
be obtained by meditation. To express intuitive knowledge, 
he used the expression Liang Chih 2 (taken from Mencius). 
Liang Chih is inherent in all human minds, but in different 
degrees, and can be developed or allowed to atrophy. To develop 
it should be man s constant object, and in its light when pure 
all things are understood and peace is obtained. The phrases of 
the Great Learning "to complete knowledge," "investigate 
things," and "rest in the highest excellence," are explained as 
referring to the Liang Chih and the contemplation of the mind 
by itself. We cannot here shut our eyes to the influence of 
Bodhidharma and his school, however fervently Wang Yang 
Ming may have appealed to the Chinese Classics. 

The reign of Wu-tsung (1506-21) was favourable to 
Buddhism. In 1507 40,000 men became monks, either Buddhist 
or Taoist. The Emperor is said to have been learned in 
Buddhist literature and to have known Sanskrit 3 as well as 
Mongol and Arabic, but he was in the hands of a band of eunuchs, 
who were known as the eight tigers. In 1515 he sent an embassy 
to Tibet with the object of inducing the Grand Lama to visit 
Peking, but the invitation was refused and the Tibetans expelled 
the mission with force. The next Emperor, Shih-T sung (1522- 

His real name was Wang Shou Jen 

8 Though the ecclesiastical study of Sanskrit decayed under the Ming dynasty, 
Yung-lo founded in 1407 a school of language for training interpreters at which 
Sanskrit was taught among other tongues. 


66), inclined to Taoism rather than Buddhism. He ordered the 
images of Buddha in the Forbidden City to be destroyed, but 
still appears to have taken part in Buddhist ceremonies at dif 
ferent periods of his reign. Wan Li (1573-1620), celebrated in 
the annals of porcelain manufacture, showed some favour to 
Buddhism. He repaired many buildings at P u-t o and dis 
tributed copies of the Tripitaka to the monasteries of his Empire. 
In his edicts occurs the saying that Confucianism and Buddhism 
are like the two wings of a bird : each requires the co-operation 
of the other. 

European missionaries first arrived during the sixteenth 
century, and, had the Catholic Church been more flexible, 
China might perhaps have recognized Christianity, not as the 
only true religion but as standing on the same footing as 
Buddhism and Taoism. The polemics of the early missionaries 
imply that they regarded Buddhism as their chief rival. Thus 
Ricci had a public controversy with a bonze at Hang-Chou, 
and his principal pupil Hsu Kuang-Ch i 1 wrote a tract entitled 
" The errors of the Buddhists exposed." Replies to these attacks 
are preserved in the writings of the distinguished Buddhist 
priest Shen Chu-Hung 2 . 

In 1644 the Ming dynasty collapsed before the Manchus 
and China was again under foreign rule. Unlike the Mongols, 
the Manchus had little inclination to Buddhism. Even before 
they had conquered China, their prince, T ai Tsung, ordered 
an inspection of monasteries and limited the number of monks. 
But in this edict he inveighs only against the abuse of religion 
and admits that "Buddha s teaching is at bottom pure and 
chaste, true and sincere : by serving him with purity and piety, 
one can obtain happiness 3 ." Shun-Chih, the first Manchu 
Emperor, wrote some prefaces to Buddhist works and enter 
tained the Dalai Lama at Peking in 1652 4 . His son and suc 
cessor, commonly known as K ang-Hsi (1662-1723), dallied 
for a while with Christianity, but the net result of his religious 
policy was to secure to Confucianism all that imperial favour 
can give. I have mentioned above his Sacred Edict and the 

8 De Groot, I.e. p. 93. 

4 Some authorities say that he became a monk before he died, but the evidence 
is not good. See Johnston in New China Review, Nos. 1 and 2, 1920. 


partial favour which he showed to Buddhism. He gave donations 
to the monasteries of P u-t o, Hang-chou and elsewhere: he 
published the Kanjur with a preface of his own 1 and the twelfth 
and last collection of the Tripitaka was issued under the auspices 
of his son and grandson. The latter, the Emperor Ch ien Lung, 
also received the Teshu Lama not only with honour, but with 
interest and sympathy, as is clear from the inscription pre 
served at Peking, in which he extols the Lama as a teacher of 
spiritual religion 2 . He also wrote a preface to a sutra for 
producing rain 3 in which he says that he has ordered the old 
editions to be carefully corrected and prayer and worship to be 
offered, "so that the old forms which have been so beneficial 
during former ages might still be blessed to the desired end." 
Even the late Empress Dowager accepted the ministrations of 
the present Dalai Lama when he visited Peking in 1908, al 
though, to his great indignation she obliged him to kneel at 
Court 4 . Her former colleague, the Empress Tzu-An was a 
devout Buddhist. The statutes of the Manchu dynasty (printed 
in 1818) contain regulations for the celebration of Buddhist 
festivals at Court, for the periodical reading of sutras to promote 
the imperial welfare, and for the performance of funeral rites. 

Still on the whole the Manchu dynasty showed less favour to 
Buddhism than any which preceded it and its restrictive edicts 
limiting the number of monks and prescribing conditions for 
ordination were followed by no periods of reaction. But the 
vitality of Buddhism is shown by the fact that these restrictions 
merely led to an increase of the secular clergy, not legally 
ordained, who in their turn claimed the imperial attention. 
Ch ien Lung began in 1735 by giving them the alternative of 
becoming ordinary laymen or of entering a monastery but this 
drastic measure was considerably modified in the next few 
years. Ultimately the secular clergy were allowed to continue 
as such, if they could show good reason, and to have one disciple 

1 See T oung Poo, 1909, p. 533. 

2 See E. Ludwig, The visit of the Teshoo Lama to Peking, Tien Tsin Press, 1904. 

3 The Ta-yiin-lung-ch ing-yu-ching. Nanjio s Catalogue, Nos. 187-8, 970, and 
see Beal, Catena of Buddhist Scriptures, pp. 417-9. 

4 See for an account of his visit "The Dalai Lamas and their relations with 
the Manchu Emperor of China" in T oung Pao, 1910, p. 774. 


CHINA (continued) 


THE Buddhist scriptures extant in the Chinese language are 
known collectively as San Tsang 1 or the three store -houses, 
that is to say, Tripitaka. Though this usage is justified by both 
eastern and European practice, it is not altogether happy, for 
the Chinese thesaurus is not analogous to the Pali Canon or to 
any collection of sacred literature known in India, being in 
spite of its name arranged in four, not in three, divisions. It is 
a great Corpus Scriptorum Sanctorum, embracing all ages and 
schools, wherein translations of the most diverse Indian works 
are supplemented by original compositions in Chinese. Imagine 
a library comprising Latin translations of the Old and New 
Testaments with copious additions from the Talmud and 
Apocryphal literature; the writings of the Fathers, decrees of 
Councils and Popes, together with the opera omnia of the 
principal schoolmen and the early protestant reformers and you 
will have some idea of this theological miscellany which has no 
claim to be called a canon, except that all the works included 
have at some time or other received a certain literary or 
doctrinal hall-mark. 


The collection is described in the catalogue compiled by 
Bunyiu Nanjio 2 . It enumerates 1662 works which are classified 
in four great divisions, (a) Sutra, (6) Vinaya, (c) Abhidharma, 
(d) Miscellaneous. The first three divisions contain translations 
only; the fourth original Chinese works as well. 

The first division called Ching or Sutras amounts to nearly 
two -thirds of the whole, for it comprises no less than 1081 

1 ""* JJ8-. For an account of some of the scriptures here mentioned see 
chap. xx. 

2 A catalogue of the Chinese Translation of the Buddhist Tripitaka. Oxford, 
Clarendon Press, 1893. An index to the Tokyo edition has been published by Fujii. 
Meiji xxxi (1898). See too Forke, Katalog des Pekinger Tripitaka, 1916. 


works and is subdivided as follows: (a) Mahayana Sutras, 541, 
(6) Hinayana Sutras, 240, (c) Mahayana and Hinayana Sutras, 
300 in number, admitted into the canon under the Sung and 
Yuan dynasties, A.D. 960-1368. Thus whereas the first two sub 
divisions differ in doctrine, the third is a supplement containing 
later translations of both schools. The second subdivision, or 
Hinayana Sutras, which is less numerous and complicated than 
that containing the Mahayana Sutras, shows clearly the char 
acter of the whole collection. It is divided into two classes 
of which the first is called A-han, that is, Agama 1 . This com 
prises translations of four works analogous to the Pali Nikayas, 
though not identical with the texts which we possess, and also 
numerous alternative translations of detached sutras. All four 
were translated about the beginning of the fifth century whereas 
the translations of detached sutras are for the most part earlier. 
This class also contains the celebrated Sutra of Forty-two 
Sections, and works like the Jataka-nidana. The second class 
is styled Sutras of one translation 2 . The title is not used rigor 
ously, but the works bearing it are relatively obscure and it is 
not always clear to what Sanskrit texts they correspond. It 
will be seen from the above that the Chinese Tripitaka is a 
literary and bibliographical collection rather than an ecclesi 
astical canon. It does not provide an authorized version for the 
edification of the faithful, but it presents for the use of the 
learned all translations of Indian works belonging to a particular 
class which possess a certain age and authority. 

The same characteristic marks the much richer collection 
of Mahayana Sutras, which contains the works most esteemed 
by Chinese Buddhists. It is divided into seven classes : 

1. Jffcjg 1 . Pan-jo (Po-jo) or Prajnaparamita 3 . 

2. |f f|| . Pao-chi or Ratnakuta. 

3. ;^C^j|. Ta-chi or Mahasannipata. 

4. I|EJ||. Hua-yen or Avatamsaka. 

2 Tan-i-ching j& j-j-Eat^ . Some of the works classed under Tan-i-ching appear 
to exist in more than one form, e.g. Nanjio, Nos. 674 and 804. 

3 These characters are commonly read Pojo by Chinese Buddhists but the 
Japanese reading Hannya shows that the pronunciation of the first character was Pan. 


5. yJg. Nieh-pan or Parinirvana. 

I I.x px. 

6 - 3L^P^lS1iS$?. Sutras in more than one trans- 

^* r ^ H | ^ | -^r-i *^ M T - * 

lation but not falling into any of the above five 

1 iptl^MS?- Other sutras existing in only one trans 

Each of the first five classes probably represents a collection 
of sutras analogous to a Nikaya and in one sense a single work 
but translated into Chinese several times, both in a complete 
form and in extracts. Thus the first class opens with the majestic 
Mahaprajnaparamita in 600 fasciculi and equivalent to 200,000 
stanzas in Sanskrit. This is followed by several translations of 
shorter versions including two of the little sutras called the 
Heart of the Prajnaparamita, which fills only one leaf. There are 
also six translations of the celebrated work known as the 
Diamond-cutter 1 , which is the ninth sutra in the Mahaprajna 
paramita and all the works classed under the heading Pan- jo 
seem to be alternative versions of parts of this great Corpus. 

The second and third classes are collections of sutras which 
no longer exist as collections in Sanskrit, though the Sanskrit 
text of some individual sutras is extant. That called Pao-chi 
or Ratnakuta opens with a collection of forty -nine sutras which 
includes the longer version of the Sukhavativyuha. This 
collection is reckoned as one work, but the other items in the 
same class are all or nearly all of them duplicate translations of 
separate sutras contained in it. This is probably true of the 
third class also. At least seven of the works included in it are 
duplicate translations of the first, which is called Mahasannipata, 
and the sutras called Candragarbha, Kshitig., Sumerug., and 
Akasag., appear to be merely sections, not separate composi 
tions, although this is not clear from the remarks of Nanjio 
and Wassiljew. 

The principal works in class 4 are two translations, one 
fuller than the other, of the Hua-yen or Avatamsaka Sutra 2 , 
still one of the most widely read among Buddhist works, and 
at least sixteen of the other items are duplicate renderings of 

1 Vajracchedika or | Chin Rang. 

2 Winternitz (Gesch. Ind. Lit. n. i. p. 242) states on the authority of Takakusu 
that this work is the same as the Ganclavyuha. See also Pelliot in J.A. 1914, 11. 
pp. 118-21. The Gandavyuha is probably an extract of the Avatamsaka. 

E. in. 1 g 


parts of it. Class 5 consists of thirteen works dealing with 
the death of the Buddha and his last discourses. The first 
sutra, sometimes called the northern text, is imperfect and 
was revised at Nanking in the form of the southern text 1 . There 
are two other incomplete versions of the same text. To judge 
from a specimen translated by Beal 2 it is a collection of late 
discourses influenced by Vishnuism and does not correspond 
to the Mahaparinibbanasutta of the Pali Canon. 

Class 6 consists of sutras which exist in several translations, 
but still do not, like the works just mentioned, form small 
libraries in themselves. It comprises, however, several books 
highly esteemed and historically important, such as the 
Saddharmapundarika (six translations), the Suvarnaprabhasa, 
the Lalitavistara, the Lankavatara, and the Shorter Sukha- 
vativyuha 3 , all extant in three translations. In it are also 
included many short tracts, the originals of which are not 
known. Some of them are Jatakas, but many 4 deal with the 
ritual of image worship or with spells. These characteristics are 
still more prominent in the seventh class, consisting of sutras 
which exist in a single translation only. The best known among 
them are the Surangama and the Mahavairocana (Ta-jih-ching), 
which is the chief text of the Shin-gon or Mantra School 5 . 

The Lu-tsang or Vinaya-pitaka is divided into Mahayana 
and Hinayana texts, neither very numerous. Many of the 
Mahayana texts profess to be revelations by Maitreya and are 
extracts of the Yogacaryabhumisastra 6 or similar to it. For 
practical purposes the most important is the Fan-wang-ching 7 
or net of Brahma. The Indian original of this work is not known, 
but since the eighth century it has been accepted in China as 
the standard manual for the monastic life 8 . 

1 Nos. 

2 Catena of Buddhist Scriptures, pp. 160 ff. 

3 The longer Sukhavativyuha is placed in the Ratnakuta class. 

4 The Sutra of Kuan-yin with the thousand hands and eyes is very popular 
and used in most temples. Nanjio, No. 320. 

No. 399 Jf* $gl|| and 530 ^ [J $g . 

6 Said to have been revealed to Asanga by Maitreya. No. 1170. 

7 $fc$B$3? No 1087 Jt has notnin g to do wi th the Pali Sutra of the same 
name. Digha, I. 

8 See below for an account of it. 


The Hinayana Vinaya comprises five very substantial 
recensions of the whole code, besides extracts, compendiums, 
and manuals. The five recensions are: (a) Shih-sung-lii in sixty- 
five fasciculi, translated in A.D. 404. This is said to be a Vinaya 
of the Sarvastivadins, but I-Ching 1 expressly says that it does 
not belong to the Mulasarvastivadin school, though not unlike 
it. (b) The Vinaya of this latter translated by I-Ching who 
brought it from India, (c) Shih-fen-lu-tsang in sixty fasciculi, 
translated in 405 and said to represent the Dharmagupta 
school, (d) The Mi-sha-so Wu-fen Lii or Vinaya of the Mahi- 
6asakas, said to be similar to the Pali Vinaya, though not 
identical with it 2 , (e) Mo-ko-seng-chi Lii or Mahasanghika 
Vinaya brought from India by Fa-Hsien and translated 416 A.D. 
It is noticeable that all five recensions are classed as Hinayanist, 
although (b) is said to be the Vinaya used by the Tibetan Church. 
Although Chinese Buddhists frequently speak of the five-fold 
Vinaya 3 , this expression does not refer to these five texts, as 
might be supposed, and I-Ching condemns it, saying that 4 the 
real number of divisions is four. 

The Abhidharma-Pitaka or Lun-tsang is, like the Sutra 
Pitaka, divided into Mahayanist and Hinayanist texts and 
texts of both schools admitted into the Canon after 960 A.D. 
The Mahayanist texts have no connection with the Pali Canon 
and their Sanskrit titles do not contain the word Abhidharma 1 . 
They are philosophical treatises ascribed to Asvaghosha, 
Nagarjuna, Asanga, Vasubandhu and others, including three 
works supposed to have been revealed by Maitreya to Asanga 5 . 
The principal of these is the Yogacarya-bhumisastra, a scripture 
of capital importance for the Yogacarya school. It describes 
the career of a Bodhisattva and hence parts of it are treated as 
belonging to the Vinaya. Among other important works in 
this section may be mentioned the Madhyamaka Sastra of 

1 Record of Buddhist Practices, p. 20. 

2 See Oldenberg, Vinaya, vol. i. pp. xxiv-xlvi. 

8 See Watters, Yuan Chicang, I. p. 227. The five schools are given as Dharma 
gupta, Mahis asika, Sarvastivadin, Ka syapiya and Mahasaughika. For the last 
Vatsiputra or Sthavira is sometimes substituted. 

4 Record of Buddhist Practices, p. 8. 

6 The Chinese word lun occurs frequently in them, but though it is used to 
translate Abhidharma, it is of much wider application and means discussion of 

6 See Watters, Yuan Chwang, I, pp. 355 ff. 


Nagarjuna, the Mahay anasutralankara of Asanga, and the 
Awakening of Faith ascribed to Asvaghosha 1 . 

The Hinayana texts also show no correspondence with the 
Pali Pitaka but are based on the Abhidharma works of the 
Sarvastivadin school 2 . These are seven in number, namely the 
Jnanaprasthanasastra of Katyayaniputra with six accessory 
treatises or Padas 3 . The Mahavibhashasastra, or commentary 
on the Jnanaprasthana, and the Abhidharmakosa 4 are also in 
this section. 

The third division of the Abhidharma is of little importance 
but contains two curious items: a manual of Buddhist ter 
minology composed as late as 1272 by Pagspa for the use of 
Khubilai s son and the Sankhyakarikabhashya, which is not 
a Buddhist work but a compendium of Sankhya philosophy 5 . 

The fourth division of the whole collection consists of 
miscellaneous works, partly translated from Sanskrit and partly 
composed in Chinese. Many of the Indian works appear from 
their title not to differ much from the later Mahayana Sutras, 
but it is rather surprising to find in this section four translations 6 
of the Dharmapada (or at least of some similar anthology) which 
are thus placed outside the Sutra Pitaka. Among the works 
professing to be translated from Sanskrit are a History of the 
Patriarchs, the Buddhacarita of Asvaghosha, a work similar 
to the Questions of King Milinda, Lives of Asvaghosha, 
Nagarjuna, Vasubandhu and others and the Suhrillekha or 
Friendly Epistle ascribed to Nagarjuna. 

The Chinese works included in this Tripitaka consist of 
nearly two hundred books, historical, critical, controversial and 
homiletic, composed by one hundred and two authors. Excluding 
late treatises on ceremonial and doctrine, the more interesting 
may be classified as follows : 

(a) Historical. Besides general histories of Buddhism, there 

1 Nos. 1179, 1190, 1249. 

2 For a discussion of this literature see Takakusu on the Abhidharma Literature 
of the Sarvastivadins, J. Pali Text Society, 1905, pp. 67 ff. 

8 Nanjio, Cat. Nos. 1273, 1275, 1276, 1277, 1292, 1281, 1282, 1296, 1317. This 
last work was not translated till the eleventh century. 

4 Nanjio, Cat. Nos. 1263, 1267 and 1269. 

5 See Takakusu s study of these translations in B.E.F.E.O. 1904, pp. 1 ff. and 
pp. 978 ff. 

6 Nanjio, Cat. Nos. 1321, 1353, 1365, 1439. 

xuv] CHINA 287 

are several collections of ecclesiastical biography. The first is 
the Kao-seng-chuan 1 , or Memoirs of eminent Monks (not, 
however, excluding laymen), giving the lives of about five 
hundred worthies who lived between 67 and 519 A.D. The series 
is continued in other works dealing with the T ang and Sung 
dynasties. For the Contemplative School there are further 
supplements carrying the record on to the Yuan. There are also 
several histories of the Chinese patriarchs. Of these the latest 
and therefore most complete is the Fo-tsu-t ung-chi 2 composed 
about 1270 by Chih P an of the T ien-T ai school. The Ching- 
te-ch uan-teng-lu 3 and other treatises give the succession of 
patriarchs according to the Contemplative School. Among 
historical works may be reckoned the travels of various pilgrims 
who visited India. 

(b) Critical. There are thirteen catalogues of the Tripitaka 
as. it existed at different periods. Several of them contain 
biographical accounts of the translators and other notes. The 
work called Chen-cheng-lun criticizes several false sutras and 
names. There are also several encyclopaedic works containing 
extracts from the Tripitaka, arranged according to subjects, 
such as the Fa-yuan-chu-lin 4 in 100 volumes; concordances of 
numerical categories and a dictionary of Sanskrit terms, 
Fan-i-ming-i-chi 5 , composed in 1151. 

(c) The literature of several Chinese sects is well repre 
sented. Thus there are more than sixty works belonging to 
the T ien T ai school beginning with the San-ta-pu or three 
great books attributed to the founder and ending with the 
ecclesiastical history of Chih-p an, written about 1270. The 
Hua-yen school is represented by the writings of four patriarchs 
and five monks: the Lli or Vinaya school by eight works at 
tributed to its founder, and the Contemplative School by a 
sutra ascribed to Hui-neng, the sixth patriarch, by works on 
the history of the Patriarchs and by several collections of 
sayings or short compositions. 

No - 1490 - 

- No. 1661. For more about the Patriarchs see 
the next chapter. 

3 !^ No - 1524> written A - D - 1006 - 

G - N - 164 - 


(d) Controversial. Under this heading may be mentioned 
polemics against Taoism, including two collections of the con 
troversies which took place between Buddhists and Taoists 
from A.D. 71 till A.D. 730: replies to the attacks made against 
Buddhism by Confucian scholars and refutations of the objec 
tions raised by sceptics or heretics such as the Che-i-lun and 
the Yiian-jen-lun, or Origin of man 1 . This latter is a well-known 
text-book written by the fifth Patriarch of the Hua-yen school 
and while criticizing Confucianism, Taoism, and the Hinayana, 
treats them as imperfect rather than as wholly erroneous 2 . Still 
more conciliatory is the Treatise on the three religions com 
posed by Liu Mi of the Yuan dynasty 3 , which asserts that all 
three deserve respect as teaching the practice of virtue. It 
attacks, however, anti-Buddhist Confucianists such as Han-Yii 
and Chu-Hsi. 

The Chinese section contains three compositions attributed 
to imperial personages of the Ming, viz., a collection of the 
prefaces and laudatory verses written by the Emperor T ai- 
Tsung, the Shen-Seng-Chuan or memoirs of remarkable monks 
with a preface by the Emperor Ch eng-tsu, and a curious book 
by his consort the Empress Jen-Hsiao, introducing a sutra which 
Her Majesty states was miraculously revealed to her on New 
Year s day, 1398 (see Nanjio, No. 1657). 

Though the Hindus were careful students and guardians of 
their sacred works, their temperament did not dispose them to 
define and limit the scriptures. But, as I have mentioned above 4 , 
there is some evidence that there was a loose Mahayanist canon 
in India which was the origin of the arrangement found in the 
Chinese Tripitaka, in so far as it (1) accepted Hinayanist as 
well as Mahayanist works, and (2) included a great number of 
relatively late sutras, arranged in classes such as Prajnaparamita 
and Mahasannipata. 


The Tripitaka analyzed by Nanjio, which contains works 
assigned to dates ranging from 67 to 1622A.D., is merely the 

. Nos - 1634 and 1594 - 

2 See for some account of it Masson-Oursel s article in J.A. 1915, i. pp. 229-354. 

* See chap, xx on the Mahayanist canon in India. 


best known survivor among several similar thesauri 1 . From 
518 A. D. onwards twelve collections of sacred literature were 
made by imperial order and many of these were published in 
more than one edition. The validity of this Canon depends 
entirely on imperial authority, but, though Emperors occasion 
ally inserted the works of writers whom they esteemed 2 , it does 
not appear that they aimed at anything but completeness nor 
did they favour any school. The Buddhist Church, like every 
other department of the Empire, received from them its share 
of protection and supervision and its claims were sufficient to 
induce the founder, or at least an early Sovereign, of every 
important dynasty to publish under his patronage a revised 
collection of the scriptures. The list of these collections is as 
follows 3 : 

1. A.D. 518 in the time of Wu-Ti, founder of the Liang. 

2. 533-4 Hsiao-Wu of the Northern Wei. 

Wan-ti, founder of the Sui. 

5. 605-16 Yang-Ti of the Sui. 

6. 695 the Empress Wu of the T ang. 

7. 730 Hsiian-Tsung of the T ang. 

8. 971 T ai-Tsu, founder of the Sung. 

9. 1285-7 Khubilai Khan, founder of the Yuan. 

10. 1368-98 Hung-Wu, founder of the Ming. 

11. 1403-24 Yung-Lo of the Ming. 

12. 1735-7 Yung-Chingand Ch ien-Lung of the Ch ing 4 . 

Of these collections, the first seven were in MS. only: the 
last five were printed. The last three appear to be substantially 
the same. The tenth and eleventh collections are known as 

1 It is described at the beginning as Ta Ming San Tsang, but strictly speaking 
it must be No. 12 of the Hat, as it contains a work said to have been written about 
1622 A.D. (p. 468). 

2 Thus the Emperor Jen Tsung ordered the works of Ch i Sung ^2pJ to be 
admitted to the Canton in 1062. 

8 Taken from Nanjio s Catalogue, p. xxvii. 

4 Ch ien-Lung is said to have printed the Tripitaka in four languages, Chinese, 
Tibetan, Mongol and Manchu, the whole collection filling 1392 vols. See Mollendorf 
in China Branch, J.A.S. xxiv. 1890, p. 28. 


southern and northern 1 , because they were printed at Nanking 
and Peking respectively. They differ only in the number of 
Chinese works admitted and similarly the twelfth collection 
is merely a revision of the tenth with the addition of fifty -four 
Chinese works. 

As mentioned, the Tripitaka contains thirteen catalogues of 
the Buddhist scriptures as known at different dates 2 . Of these the 
most important are (a) the earliest published between 506 and 
512 A.D., (6) three published under the T ang dynasty and known 
as Nei-tien-lu, T u-chi (both about 664 A.D.), and K ai-yiian-lu 
(about 720 A.D.), (c) Chih-Yiian-lu or catalogue of Yuan dynasty, 
about 1285, which, besides enumerating the Chinese titles, 
transliterates the Sanskrit titles and states whether the Indian 
works translated are also translated into Tibetan, (d) The 
catalogue of the first Ming collection. 

The later collections contain new material and differ from 
the earlier by natural accretion, for a great number of transla 
tions were produced under the T ang and Sung. Thus the 
seventh catalogue (695 A.D.) records that 859 new works were 
admitted to the Canon. But this expansion was accompanied 
by a critical and sifting process, so that whereas the first col 
lection contained 2213 works, the Ming edition contains only 
1622. This compression means not that works of importance 
w r ere rejected as heretical or apocryphal, for, as we have seen, 
the Tripitaka is most catholic, but that whereas the earlier 
collections admitted multitudinous extracts or partial trans 
lations of Indian works, many of these were discarded when 
complete versions had been made. 

Nanjio considers that of the 2213 works contained in the 
first collection only 276 are extant. Although the catalogues 
are preserved, all the earlier collections are lost: copies of the 

1 But according to another statement the southern recension was not the 
imperial collection begun in 1368 but a private edition now lost. See Nanjio, 
Cat. p. xxiii. 

2 See for the complete list Nanjio, Cat. p. xxvii. Those named above are 

7Ki Nos - 1483 > 1485 > 1487 > and (6) 7C 

^ ? No. 1612. For the date of the first see Maspero in B.E.F.E.O. 1910, p. 114. 
There was a still earlier catalogue composed by Tao-an in 374 of which only 
fragments have been preserved. See Pelliot in T oung Poo, xix. 1920, p. 258. 

xuv] CHINA 291 

eighth and ninth were preserved in the Z6-jo-ji Library of Tokyo 1 
and Chinese and Japanese editions of the tenth, eleventh and 
twelfth are current. So far as one can judge, when the eighth 
catalogue, or K ai-yuan-lu, was composed (between 713 and 
741), the older and major part of the Canon had been definitively 
fixed and the later collections merely add the translations made 
by Amogha, and by writers of the Sung and Yiian dynasties. 

The editions of the Chinese Tripitaka must be distinguished 
from the collections, for by editions are meant the forms in 
which each collection was published, the text being or purporting 
to be the same in all the editions of each collection. It is said 2 
that under the Sung and Yiian twenty different editions were 
produced. These earlier issues were printed on long folding sheets 
and a nun called Fa-chen 3 is said to have first published an 
edition in the shape of ordinary Chinese books. In 1586 a monk 
named Mi-Tsang 4 imitated this procedure and his edition was 
widely used. About a century later a Japanese priest known as 
Tetsu-yen 5 reproduced it and his publication, which is not 
uncommon in Japan, is usually called the 0-baku edition. 
There are two modern Japanese editions: (a) that of Tokyo, 
begun in 1880, based on a Korean edition 6 with various readings 
taken from other Chinese editions. (6) That of Kyoto, 1905, 
which is a reprint of the Ming collection 7 . A Chinese edition 
has been published at Shanghai (1913) at the expense of 
Mrs Hardoon, a Chinese lady well known as a munificent patron 
of the faith, and I believe another at Nanking, but I do not 
know if it is complete or not 8 . 

1 For the Korean copy now in Japan, see Courant, Bibliographic cordenne, 
vol. in. pp. 215-19. 

2 See Nanjio, Cat. p. xxii. 

%&- mm- 

6 Also called Do-ko. 

8 The earlier collections of the Tripitaka seem to have been known in Korea 
and about 1000 A.D. the king procured from China a copy of the Imperial Edition, 
presumably the eighth collection (971 A.D.)- He then ordered a commission of 
scholars to revise the text and publish an edition of his own. The copy of this edition, 
on which the recent Tokyo edition was founded, was brought to Japan in the 
Bun-mei period 1469-1486. 

7 A supplement to the Tripitaka containing non-canonical works in 750 volumes 
(Dai Nippon Zoku-Zokyo) was published in 1911. 

8 The Peking Tripitaka catalogued by Forke appears to be a set of 1223 works 
represented by copies taken from four editions published in 1578, 1592, 1598 and 
1735 A.D., all of which are editions of the collections numbered 11 and 12 above. 


The translations contained in the Chinese Tripitaka belong 
to several periods 1 . In the earliest, which extends to the middle 
of the fourth century, the works produced were chiefly renderings 
of detached sutras 2 . Few treatises classified as Vinaya or 
Abhidharma were translated and those few are mostly extracts 
or compilations. The sutras belong to both the Hina and 
Mahayana. The earliest extant translation or rather compilation, 
the Sutra of Forty-two sections, belongs to the former school, 
and so do the majority of the translations made by An-Shih-Kao 
(148-170 A.D.), but from the second century onwards the 
Prajnaparamita and Amitabha Sutras make their appearance 3 . 
Many of the translations made in this period are described as 
incomplete or incorrect and the fact that most of them were 
superseded or supplemented by later versions shows that the 
Chinese recognized their provisional character. Future re 
search will probably show that many of them are paraphrases 
or compendiums rather than translations in our sense. 

The next period, roughly speaking 375-745 A.D., was extra 
ordinarily prolific in extensive and authoritative translations. 
The translators now attack not detached chapters or discourses 
but the great monuments of Indian Buddhist literature. Though 
it is not easy to make any chronological bisection in this period, 
there is a clear difference in the work done at the beginning and 
at the end of it. From the end of the fourth century onwards 
a desire to have complete translations of the great canonical 
works is apparent. Between 385 and 445 A.D. were translated 
the four Agamas, analogous to the Nikayas of the Pali Canon, 
three great collections of the Vinaya, and the principal scrip 
tures of the Abhidharma according to the Sarvastivadin school. 
For the Mahayana were translated the great sutras known as 
Avatamsaka, Lankavatara, and many others, as well as works 

1 For two interesting lives of translators see the T oung Pao, 1909, p. 199, and 
1905, p. 332, where will be found the biographies of Seng Hui, a Sogdian who died 
in 280 and Jinagupta a native of Gandhara (528-605). 

2 But between 266 and 313 Dharmaraksha translated the Saddharmapundarika 
(including the additional chapters 21-26) and the Lalitavistara. His translation of 
the Prajnaparamita is incomplete. 

3 In the translations of Lokakshi 147-186, Chih-Ch ien 223-243, Dharmaraksha 


ascribed to Asvaghosha and Nagarjuna. After 645 A.D. a further 
development of the critical spirit is perceptible, especially in 
the labours of Hsiian Chuang and I-Ching. They attempt to 
give the religious public not only complete works in place of 
extracts and compendiums, but also to select the most authori 
tative texts among the many current in India. Thus, though 
many translations had appeared under the name of Prajna- 
paramita, Hsiian Chuang filled 600 fasciculi with a new rendering 
of the gigantic treatise. I-Ching supplemented the already 
bulky library of Vinaya works with versions of the Mulasar- 
vastivadin recension and many auxiliary texts. 

Amogha (Pu-K ung) whose literary labours extended from 
746 to 774 A.D. is a convenient figure to mark the beginning of 
the next and last period, although some of its characteristics 
appear a little earlier. They are that no more translations are 
made from the great Buddhist classics partly no doubt 
because they had all been translated already, well or ill but 
that renderings of works described as Dharani or Tantra pullu 
late and multiply. Though this literature deserves such epithets 
as decadent and superstitious, yet it would appear that Indian 
Tantras of the worst class were not palatable to the Chinese. 

The Chinese Tripitaka is of great importance for the literary 
history of Buddhism, but the material which it offers for in 
vestigation is superabundant and the work yet done is small. 
We are confronted by such questions as, can we accept the dates 
assigned to the translators, can we assume that, if the Chinese 
translations or transliterations correspond with Indian titles, 
the works are the same, and if the works are professedly the 
same, can we assume that the Chinese text is a correct present 
ment of the Indian original? 

The dates assigned to the translators offer little ground for 
scepticism. The exactitude of the Chinese in such matters is 
well attested, and there is a general agreement between several 
authorities such as the Catalogues of the Tripitaka, the memoirs 
known as Kao-Seng Chuan with their continuations, and the 
chapter on Buddhist books in the Sui annals. There are no signs 


of a desire to claim improbable accuracy or improbable antiquity. 
Many works are said to be by unknown translators, doubtful 
authorship is frankly discussed, and the movement of literature 
and thought indicated is what we should expect. We have 
first fragmentary and incomplete translations belonging to both 
the Maha and Hinayana : then a series of more complete trans 
lations beginning about the fifth century in which the great 
Hinayana texts are conspicuous: then a further series of im 
proved translations in which the Hinayana falls into the back 
ground and the works of Asanga and Vasubandhu come to the 
front. This evidently reflects the condition of Buddhist India 
about 500-650 A.D., just as the translations of the eighth century 
reflect its later and tan trie phase. 

But can Chinese texts be accepted as reasonably faithful 
reproductions of the Indian originals whose names they bear, 
and some of which have been lost? This question is really 
double ; firstly, did the translators reproduce with fair accuracy 
the Indian text before them, and secondly, since Indian texts 
often exist in several recensions, can we assume that the work 
which the translators knew under a certain Sanskrit name is the 
work known to us by that name ? In reply it must be said that 
most Chinese translators fall short of our standards of accuracy. 
In early times when grammars and dictionaries were unknown 
the scholarly rendering of foreign books was a difficult business, 
for professional interpreters would usually be incapable of 
understanding a philosophic treatise. The method often followed 
was that an Indian explained the text to a literary Chinese, who 
recast the explanation in his own language. The many transla 
tions of the more important texts and the frequent description 
of the earlier ones as imperfect indicate a feeling that the results 
achieved were not satisfactory. Several so-called translators, 
especially Kumarajiva, gave abstracts of the Indian texts 1 . 
Others, like Dharmaraksha, who made a Chinese version of 
Asvaghosha s Buddhacarita, so amplified and transposed the 

1 But his translation of the Lotus won admiration for its literary style. See 
Anesaki Nichircn, p. 17. Wieger (Croyances, p. 367) says that the works of An- 
shih-kao illustrate the various methods of translation: absolutely literal renderings 
which have hardly any meaning in Chinese: word for word translations to which 
is added a paraphrase of each sentence in Chinese idiom : and elegant renderings by 
a native in which the original text obviously suffers. 


original that the result can hardly be called a translation 1 . 
Others combined different texts in one. Thus the work called 
Ta-o-mi-to-ching 2 consists of extracts taken from four previous 
translations of the Sukhavativyuha and rearranged by the 
author under the inspiration of Avalokita to whom, as he tells us, 
he was wont to pray during the execution of his task. Others 
again, like Dhannagupta, anticipated a method afterwards used 
in Tibet, and gave a word for word rendering of the Sanskrit 
which is hardly intelligible to an educated Chinese. The later 
versions, e.g. those of Hsiian Chuang, are more accurate, but 
still a Chinese rendering of a lost Indian document cannot be 
accepted as a faithful representation of the original without a 
critical examination 3 . 

Often, however, the translator, whatever his weaknesses 
may have been, had before him a text differing in bulk and 
arrangement from the Pali and Sanskrit texts which we possess. 
Thus, there are four Chinese translations of works bearing some 
relation to the Dhammapada of the Pali Canon. All of these 
describe the original text as the compilation of Dharmatrata, 
to whom is also ascribed the compilation of the Tibetan Udana- 
varga 4 . His name is not mentioned in connection with the Pali 
text, yet two of the Chinese translations are closely related to 
that text. The Fa-chii-ching 5 is a collection of verses translated 
in 224 A.D. and said to correspond with the Pali except that it 
has nine additional chapters and some additional stanzas. The 
Fa-chu-p i-yii-ching 6 represents another edition of the same 

1 Yet it must have been intended as such. The title expressly describes the work 
as composed by the Bodhisattva Ma-Ming (AsVaghosha) and translated by Dhar- 
maraksha. Though his idea of a translation was at best an amplified metrical 
paraphrase, yet he coincides verbally with the original so often that his work can 
hardly be described as an independent poem inspired by it. 

;*WflilZfc&- N - 203 - 

8 See Sukhavativyuha, ed. Max Miiller and Bunyiu Nanjio, Oxford, 1883. 
In the preface, pp. vii-ix, is a detailed comparison of several translations and in an 
appendix, pp. 79 ff., a rendering of Sanghavarman s Chinese version of verses which 
occur in the work. Chinese critics say that Tao-an in the third century was the first 
to introduce a sound style of translation. He made no translations himself which 
have survived but was a scholar and commentator who influenced others. 

4 This is an anthology (edited by Beckh, 1911: translated by Rockhill, 1892) in 
which 300 verses are similar to the Pali Dhammapada. 

No - 1365 6 K- No - 1353 - 


verses, illustrated by a collection of parables. It was translated 
between 290 and 306. The Ch u-yao-ching 1 , translated in 399, 
is a similar collection of verses and parables, but founded on 
another Indian work of much greater length. A revised trans 
lation containing only the verses was made between 980 and 
100 1 2 . They are said to be the same as the Tibetan Udana, and 
the characteristics of this book, going back apparently to a 
Sanskrit original, are that it is divided into thirty-three chapters, 
and that though it contains about 300 verses found in Pali, 
yet it is not merely the Pah* text plus additions, but an anthology 
arranged on a different principle and only partly identical in 
substance 3 . 

There can be little doubt that the Pali Dhammapada is one 
among several collections of verses, with or without an ex 
planatory commentary of stories. In all these collections there 
was much common matter, both prose and verse, but some were 
longer, some shorter, some were in Pali and some in Sanskrit. 
Whereas the Chinese Dhammapada is longer than the Indian 
texts, the Chinese version of Milinda s Questions 4 is much 
shorter and omits books iv-vii. It was made between 317 and 
420 A.D. and the inference is that the original Indian text re 
ceived later additions. 

A more important problem is this: what is the relation to 
the Pali Canon of the Chinese texts bearing titles corresponding 
to Dirgha, Madhyama, Samyukta and Ekottara? These collec 
tions of sutras do not call themselves Nikaya but A-han or 
Agama: the titles are translated as Ch ang (long), Chung 
(medium), Tsa (miscellaneous) and Tseng-i, representing Ekot 
tara rather than Anguttara 5 . There is hence prima facie reason 

S. No. 1321. 

Fa-chi-yao-sung-ching, No. 1439. 

3 There seem to be at least two other collections. Firstly a Prakrit anthology 
of which Dutreuil de Rhins discovered a fragmentary MS. in Khotan and secondly 
a much amplified collection preserved in the Korean Tripitaka and reprinted in the 
Tokyo edition (xxiv. g). The relation of these to the other recensions is not clear. 

4 Nanjio, Cat. 1358. See Pelliot, J.A. 1914, n. p. 379. 

6 -Jf Ffr . Sfl . ^8* ** For the relations of the Chinese translations to 

J-V I O P- " W > *. 

the Pali Tripitaka, and to a Sanskrit Canon now preserved only in a fragmentary 
slate, see inter alia, Nanjio, Cat. pp. 127 ff., especially Nos. 542, 543, 545. Anesaki, 
J.R.A.S. 1901, p. 895; id. "On some problems of the textual history of the Buddhist 
scriptures," in Trans. A. S. Japan, 1908, p. 81, and more especially his longer article 


to suppose that these works represent not the Pali Canon, but 
a somewhat similar Sanskrit collection. That one or many 
Sanskrit works may have coexisted with a somewhat similar 
Pali work is clearly shown by the Vinaya texts, for here we have 
the Pali Canon and Chinese translations of five Sanskrit versions, 
belonging to different schools, but apparently covering the 
same ground and partly identical. For the Sutra Pitaka no such 
body of evidence is forthcoming, but the Sanskrit fragments 
of the Samyuktagama found near Turfan contain parts of six 
sutras which are arranged in the same order as in the Chinese 
translation and are apparently the original from which it was 
made. It is noticeable that three of the four great Agamas were 
translated by monks who came from Tukhara or Kabul. 
Gunabhadra, however, the translator of the Samyuktagama, 
came from Central India and the text which he translated was 
brought from Ceylon by Fa-Hsien. It apparently belonged to 
the Abhayagiri monastery and not to the Mahavihara. Nanjio 1 , 
however, states that about half of it is repeated in the Chinese 
versions of the Madhyama and Ekottara Agamas. It is also 
certain that though the Chinese Agamas and Pali Nikayas 
contain much common matter, it is differently distributed 2 . 

There was in India a copious collection of sutras, existing 
primarily as oral tradition and varying in diction and arrange 
ment, but codified from time to time in a written form. One 
of such codifications is represented by the Pali Canon, at least 
one other by the Sanskrit text which was rendered into Chinese. 
With rare exceptions the Chinese translations were from the 
Sanskrit 3 . The Sanskrit codification of the sutra literature, while 

entitled, "The Four Buddhist Agamas in Chinese" in the same year of the Trans. , 
id. "Traces of Pali Texts in a Mahayana Treatise," Museon, 1905. S. Levi, Le 
Samyuktagama Sanskrit, T oung Poo, 1904, p. 297. 

1 No. 544. 

2 Thus seventy sutras of the Pali Anguttara are found in the Chinese Madhyama 
and some of them are repeated in the Chinese Ekottara. The Pali Majjhima con 
tains 125 sutras, the Chinese Madhyamagama 222, of which 98 are common to both. 
Also twenty-two Pali Majjhima dialogues are found in the Chinese Ekottara and 
Samyukta, seventy Chinese Madhyama dialogues in Pali Anguttara, nine in Digha, 
seven in Samyutta and five in Khuddaka. Anesaki, Some Problems of the textual 
history of the Buddhist Scriptures. See also Anesaki in Miise on, 1905, pp. 23 ff. on 
the Samyutta Nikaya. 

3 Anesaki, "Traces of Pali Texts," Museon, 1905, shows that the Indian author 
of the Mahaprajnaparamita Sastra may have known Pali texts, but the only certain 
translation from the Pali appears to be Nanjio, No. 1125, which is a translation of 


differing from the Pali in language and arrangement, is identical 
in doctrine and almost identical in substance. It is clearly the 
product of the same or similar schools, but is it earlier or later 
than the Pali or contemporary with it? The Chinese translations 
merely fix the latest possible date. A portion of the Samyukta- 
gama (Nanjio, No. 547) was translated by an unknown author 
between 220 and 280. This is probably an extract from the 
complete work which was translated about 440, but it would be 
difficult to prove that the Indian original was not augmented or 
rearranged between these dates. The earliest translation of a 
complete Agama is that of the Ekottaragama, 384 A.D. But 
the evidence of inscriptions 1 shows that works known as Nikayas 
existed in the third century B.C. The Sanskrit of the Agamas, 
so far as it is known from the fragments found in Central Asia, 
does not suggest that they belong to this epoch, but is compatible 
with the theory that they date from the time of Kanishka of 
which if we know little, we can at least say that it produced 
much Buddhist Sanskrit literature. M. Sylvain Levi has sug 
gested that the later appearance of the complete Vinaya in 
Chinese is due to the late compilation of the Sanskrit original 2 . 
It seems to me that other explanations are possible. The early 
translators were clearly shy of extensive works and until there 
was a considerable body of Chinese monks, to what public would 
these theological libraries appeal? Still, if any indication were 
forthcoming from India or Central Asia that the Sanskrit 
Agamas were arranged or rearranged in the early centuries of 
our era, the late date of the Chinese translations would certainly 
support it. But I am inclined to think that the Nikayas were 
rewritten in Sanskrit about the beginning of our era, when it was 
felt that works claiming a certain position ought to be composed 
in what had become the general literary language of India 3 . 

the Introduction to Buddhaghosa s Samanta-pasadika or commentary on the Vinaya. 
See Takakusu in J.R.A.S. 1896, p. 415. Nanjio s restoration of the title as Sudarsana 
appears to be incorrect. 

1 See Epigraphia Indica, vol. n. p. 93. 

2 In support of this it may be mentioned that Fa-Hsien says that at the time of 
his visit to India the Vinaya of the Sarvastivadins was preserved orally and not 
committed to writing. 

3 The idea that an important book ought to be in Sanskrit or deserves to be 
turned into Sanskrit is not dead in India. See Grierson, J.R.A.S. 1913, p. 133, who 
in discussing a Sanskrit version of the Ramayana of Tulsi Das mentions that trans 
lations of vernacular works into Sanskrit are not uncommon. 


Perhaps those who wrote them in Sanskrit were hardly con 
scious of making a translation in our sense, but simply wished 
to publish them in the best literary form. 

It seems probable that the Hinayanist portion of the Chinese 
Tripitaka is in the main a translation of the Canon of the Sar- 
vastivadins which must have consisted of : 

(1) Four Agamas or Nikayas only, for the Dhammapada 
is placed outside the Sutta Pitaka. 

(2) A voluminous Vinaya covering the same ground as the 
Pali recension but more copious in legend and anecdote. 

(3) An Abhidharma entirely different from the Pali works 
bearing this name. 

It might seem to follow from this that the whole Pali 
Abhidharma and some important works such as the Thera- 
Therigatha were unknown to the Hinayanists of Central Asia 
and Northern India in the early centuries of our era. But caution 
is necessary in drawing such inferences, for until recently it 
might have been said that the Sutta Nipata also was unknown, 
whereas fragments of it in a Sanskrit version have now been 
discovered in Eastern Turkestan 1 . The Chinese editors draw 
a clear distinction between Hinayanist and Mahayanist scrip 
tures. They exclude from the latter works analogous to the 
Pali Nikayas and Vinaya, and also the Abhidharma of the 
Sarvastivadins. But the labours of Hsiian Chuang and I-Ching 
show that this does not imply the rejection of all these works 
by Mahay anists. 

Buddhist literary activity has an interesting side aspect, 
namely the expedients used to transliterate Indian words, which 

1 J.R.A.S. 1916, p. 709. Also, the division into five Nikayas is ancient. See 
Biihler in Epig. Indica, n. p. 93. Anesaki says (Trans. A. S. Japan, 1908, p. 9) that 
Nanjio, No. 714, Pen Shih is the Itivuttakam, which could not have been guessed 
from Nanjio s entry. Portions of the works composing the fifth Nikaya (e.g. the 
Sutta Nipata) occur in the Chinese Tripitaka in the other Nikayas. For mentions 
of the- fifth Nikaya in Chinese, see J.A. 1916, n. pp. 32-33, where it is said to be 
called Tsa-Tsang. This is also the designation of the last section of the Tripitaka, 
Nanjio, Nos. 1321 to 1662, and as this section contains the Dharmapada, it might be 
supposed to be an enormously distended version of the Kshudraka Nikaya. But 
this can hardly be the case, for this Tsa-Tsang is placed as if it was considered as a 
fourth Pitaka rather than as a fifth Nikaya. 

B. ra. 20 


almost provided the Chinese with an alphabet. To some extent 
Indian names, particularly proper names possessing an obvious 
meaning, are translated. Thus Asoka becomes Wu-yu, without 
sorrow: Asvaghosha, Ma-ming or horse-voice, and Udyana 
simply Yuan or park 1 . But many proper names did not lend 
themselves to such renderings and it was a delicate business 
to translate theological terms like Nirvana and Samadhi. The 
Buddhists did not perhaps invent the idea of using the Chinese 
characters so as to spell with moderate precision 2 , but they had 
greater need of this procedure than other writers and they used 
it extensively 3 and with such variety of detail that though they 
invented some fifteen different syllabaries, none of them ob 
tained general acceptance and Julien 4 enumerates 3000 Chinese 
characters used to represent the sounds indicated by 47 
Indian letters. Still, they gave currency 5 to the system known 
as fan-ch ieh which renders a syllable phonetically by two 
characters, the final of the first and the initial of the second not 
being pronounced. Thus, in order to indicate the sound Chung, 
a Chinese dictionary will use the two characters chu yung, which 
are to be read together as Ch ung. 

The transcriptions of Indian words vary in exactitude and 
the later are naturally better. Hsiian Chuang was a notable 
reformer and probably after his time Indian words were rendered 
in Chinese characters as accurately as Chinese words are now 
transcribed in Latin letters. It is true that modern pronuncia 
tion makes such renderings as Fo seem a strange distortion of 
the original. But it is an abbreviation of Fo-t o and these 
syllables were probably once pronounced something like Vut- 
tha 6 . Similarly Wen-shu-shih-li 7 seems a parody of Manjusri. 

2 See Walters, Essays on the Chinese Language, pp. 36, 51, and, for the whole 
subject of transcription, Stanislas Julien, Methode pour dechiffrer et transcrire les 
rioms Sanscrits qui se rencontrent dans les livres chinois. 

3 Entire Sanskrit compositions were sometimes transcribed in Chinese characters. 
See Kien Ch ui Fan Tsan, Bibl Budd. xv. and Max Miiller, Buddhist Texts from Japan, 
in. pp. 35-46. 

4 L.c. pp. 83-232. 

5 See inter alia the Preface to K ang Hsi s Dictionary. The fan-ch ieh 

system is used in the well-known dictionary called Yii-Pien composed 543 A.D. 

6 Even in modern Cantonese Fo is pronounced as Fat. 


But the evidence of modern dialects shows that the first two 
syllables may have been pronounced as Man-ju. The pupil was 
probably taught to eliminate the obscure vowel of shih, and 
li was taken as the nearest equivalent of ri t just as European 
authors write chih and tzu without pretending that they are 
more than conventional signs for Chinese sounds unknown to 
our languages. It was certainly possible to transcribe not only 
names but Sanskrit prayers and formulae in Chinese characters, 
and though many writers sneer at the gibberish chaunted by 
Buddhist priests yet I doubt if this ecclesiastical pronunciation, 
which has changed with that of the spoken language, is further 
removed from its original than the Latin of Oxford from the 
speech of Augustus. 

Sanskrit learning flourished in China for a considerable 
period. In the time of the T ang, the clergy numbered many 
serious students of Indian literature and the glossaries included 
in the Tripitaka show that they studied the original texts. Under 
the Sung dynasty (A.D. 1151) was compiled another dictionary 
of religious terms 1 and the study of Sanskrit was encouraged 
under the Yuan. But the ecclesiastics of the Ming produced no 
new translations and apparently abandoned the study of the 
original texts which was no longer kept alive by the arrival of 
learned men from India. It has been stated that Sanskrit 
manuscripts are still preserved in Chinese monasteries, but no 
details respecting such works are known to me. The statement 
is not improbable in itself 2 as is shown by the Library which 
Stein discovered at Tun-huang and by the Japanese palm-leaf 
manuscripts which came originally from China. A few copies 
of Sanskrit sutras printed in China in the Lanja variety of the 
Devanagari alphabet have been brought to Europe 3 . Max Miiller 
published a facsimile of part of the Vajracchedika obtained at 
Peking and printed in Sanskrit from wooden blocks. The place 
of production is unknown, but the characters are similar to 
those used for printing Sanskrit in Tibet, as may be seen from 

1 Nanjio, Cat. No. 1640. 

3 History repeats itself. I have seen many modern Burmese and Sinhalese 
MSS. in Chinese monasteries. 

3 Buddhist Texts from Japan, ed. Max Miiller in Anecdota Oxoniensia, Aryan 
Series, I, n and in. For the Lanja printed text see the last facsimile in I, also m. 
p. 34 and Bibl. Budd. xiv (Kuan-si-im Pusar), pp. vi, vii. Another copy of this 
Lanja printed text was bought in Kyoto, 1920. 


another facsimile (No. 3) in the same work. Placards and 
pamphlets containing short invocations in Sanskrit and Tibetan 
are common in Chinese monasteries, particularly where there is 
any Lamaistic influence, but they do not imply that the monks 
who use them have any literary acquaintance with those 

CHINA (continued) 


THE Schools (Tsung) of Chinese Buddhism are an intricate 
subject of little practical importance, for observers agree that 
at the present day all salient differences of doctrine and practice 
have been obliterated, although the older monasteries may 
present variations in details and honour their own line of 
teachers. A particular Bodhisattva may be singled out for 
reverence in one locality or some religious observance may be 
specially enjoined, but there is little aggressiveness or self 
assertion among the sects, even if they are conscious of having 
a definite name : they each tolerate the deities, rites and books 
of all and pay attention to as many items as leisure and inertia 
permit. There is no clear distinction between Mahayana and 

The main division is of course into Lamaism on one side and 
all remaining sects on the other. Apart from this we find a 
record of ten schools which deserve notice for various reasons. 
Some, though obscure in modern China, have flourished after 
transportation to Japan: some, such as the T ien-t ai, are a 
memorial of a brilliant epoch : some represent doctrines which, 
if not now held by separate bodies, at least indicate different 
tendencies, such as magical ceremonies, mystical contemplation, 
or faith in Amitabha. 

1 ~r.. See especially Hackmann, "Die Schulen des chinesischen Buddhismus " 

(in the Mitth. Seminars fur Orientalische Sprachen, Berlin, 1911), which contains the 
text and translation of an Essay by a modern Chinese Buddhist, Yang Wen Hui. 
Such a review of Chinese sects from the contemporary Buddhist point of view has 
great value, but it does not seem to me that Mr Yang explains clearly the dogmatic 
tenets of each sect, the obvious inference being that such tenets are of little 
practical importance. Chinese monasteries often seem to combine several schools. 
Thus the Tz u-Fu-Ssu monastery near Peking professes to belong both to the Lin- 
Chi and Pure Land schools and its teachers expound the Diamond-cutter, Lotus 
and Shou-Leng-Ching. So also in India. See Rhys Davids in article Sects 
Buddhist, E.R.E. Hackmann gives a list of authorities. Edkins, Chinese Buddhism 
(chaps, vii and vin), may still be consulted, though the account is far from clear. 


The more important schools were comparatively late, for 
they date from the sixth and seventh centuries. For two or 
three hundred years the Buddhists of China were a colony of 
strangers, mainly occupied in making translations. By the 
fifth century the extent and diversity of Indian literature be 
came apparent and Fa-Hsien went to India to ascertain which 
was the most correct Vinaya and to obtain copies of it. Theology 
was now sufficiently developed to give rise to two schools both 
Indian in origin and merely transported to China, known as 
Ch eng-shih-tsung and San-lun-tsung 1 . 

The first is considered as Hinayanist and equivalent to the 
Sautrantikas 2 . In the seventh century it passed over to Japan 
where it is known as Ji-jitsu-shu, but neither there nor in China 
had it much importance. The San-lun-tsung recognizes as three 
authorities (from which it takes its name) the Madhyamika- 
sastra and Dvadasanikayasastra of Nagarjuna with the 
Satasastra of his pupil Deva. It is simply the school of these 
two doctors and represents the extreme of Mahay anism. It had 
some importance in Japan, where it was called San-Ron- 

The arrival of Bodhidharma at Canton in 520 (or 526) was 
a great event for the history of Buddhist dogma, although his 
special doctrines did not become popular until much later. He 
introduced the contemplative school and also the institution of 
the Patriarchate, which for a time had some importance. He 
wrote no books himself, but taught that true knowledge is 
gained in meditation by intuition 3 and communicated by 
transference of thought. The best account of his teaching is 
contained in the Chinese treatise which reports the sermon 
preached by him before the Emperor Wu-Ti in 520 4 . The chief 
thesis of this disQOurse is that the only true reality is the Buddha 

2 It based itself on the Satyasiddhisastra of Harivarman, Nanjio, Cat. 

8 This meditation however is of a special sort. The six Paramitas are, Dana, 
Sila, Kshanti, Virya, Dhyana and Prajna. The meditation of Bodhidharma is not 
the Dhyana of this list, but meditation on Prajna, the highest of the Paramitas. 
See Hackmann s Chinese text, p. 249. 

4 Ta-mo-hsiie-mai-lun, analyzed by Wieger in his Histoire des Croyances religieuses 
en Chine, pp. 520 ff. I could wish for more information about this work, but have 
not been able to find the original. 


nature 1 in the heart of every man. Prayer, asceticism and good 
works are vain. All that man need do is to turn his gaze inward 
and see the Buddha in his own heart. This vision, which gives 
light and deliverance, comes in a moment. It is a simple, natural 
act like swallowing or dreaming which cannot be taught or 
learnt, for it is not something imparted but an experience of 
the soul, and teaching can only prepare the way for it. Some 
are impeded by their karma and are physically incapable of 
the vision, whatever their merits or piety may be, but for those 
to whom it comes it is inevitable and convincing. 

We have only to substitute dtman for Buddha or Buddha 
nature to see how closely this teaching resembles certain 
passages in the Upanishads, and the resemblance is particularly 
strong in such statements as that the Buddha nature reveals 
itself in dreams, or that it is so great that it embraces the 
universe and so small that the point of a needle cannot prick 
it. The doctrine of Maya is clearly indicated, even if the word 
was not used in the original, for it is expressly said that all 
phenomena are unreal. Thus the teaching of Bodhidharma is 
an anticipation of Ankara s monism, but it is formulated in 
consistently Buddhist language and is in harmony with the 
views of the Madhyamika school and of the Diamond-cutter. 
This Chinese sermon confirms other evidence which indicates 
that the ideas of the Advaita philosophy, though Brahmanic 
in their origin and severely condemned by Gotama himself, 
were elaborated in Buddhist circles before they were approved 
by orthodox Hindus. 

Bodhidharma s teaching was Indian but it harmonized 
marvellously with Taoism and Chinese Buddhists studied 
Taoist books 2 . A current of Chinese thought which was old 
and strong, if not the main stream, bade man abstain from 
action and look for peace and light within. It was, I think, the 
junction of this native tributary with the river of inflowing 
Buddhism which gave the Contemplative School its importance. 
It lost that importance because it abandoned its special doctrines 

1 Also called Fa-shen or dharmakaya in the discourse. Bodhidharma said that 
he preached the seal of the heart (hsinyin). This probably corresponds to some Sanskrit 
expression, but I have not found the Indian equivalent. 

2 I-Ching, in his Memoirs of Eminent Monks, mentions three pilgrims as having 
studied the works of Chuang-tzu and his own style shows that he was well-read in 
this author. 


and adopted the usages of other schools. When Taoism flourished 
under the Sung Emperors it was also flourishing and influenced 
art as well as thought, but it probably decayed under the Yuan 
dynasty which favoured religion of a different stamp. It is 
remarkable that Bodhidharma appears to be unknown to both 
Indian and Tibetan 1 writers but his teaching has imparted a 
special tone and character to a section (though not the whole) 
of Far Eastern Buddhism. It is called in Chinese Tsung-men 
or Ch an-tsung, but this word Ch an 2 is perhaps better known 
to Europe in its Japanese form Zen. 

Bodhidharma is also accounted the twenty -eighth Patriarch, 
a title which represents the Chinese Tsu Shih 3 rather than any 
Indian designation, for though in Pali literature we hear of the 
succession of teachers 4 , it is not clear that any of them enjoyed 
a style or position such as is implied in the word Patriarch. 
Hindus have always attached importance to spiritual lineage 
and every school has a list of teachers who have transmitted 
its special lore, but the sense of hierarchy is so weak that it is 
misleading to describe these personages as Popes, Patriarchs or 
Bishops, and apart from the personal respect which the talents 
of individuals may have won, it does not appear that there was 
any succession of teachers who could be correctly termed heads 
of the Church. Even in China such a title is of dubious accuracy 
for whatever position Bodhidharma and his successors may 
have claimed for themselves, they were not generally accepted 
as being more than the heads of a school and other schools also 
gave their chief teachers the title of Tsu-shih. From time to 
time the Emperor appointed overseers of religion with the title 
of Kuo-shih 5 , instructor of the nation, but these were officials 
appointed by the Crown, not prelates consecrated by the Church. 

Twenty-eight Patriarchs are supposed to have flourished 
between the death of the Buddha and the arrival of Bodhidharma 
in China. The Chinese lists 6 do not in the earlier part agree with 

1 He is not mentioned by Taranatha. 

1 f$. * jffiffifi. 

4 Acariyaparampara. There is a list of such teachers in Mahavamsa, v. 95 ff., 
Dipavamsa, iv. 27 ff. and v. 69. 

6 The succession of Patriarchs is the subject of several works comprised in the 
Chinese Tripitaka. Of these the Fu-fa-tsang-yin-yiian-ching (Nanjio, 1340) is the 


the Singhalese accounts of the apostolic succession and contain 
few eminent names with the exception of Asvaghosha, Nagar- 
juna, Deva and Vasubandhu. 

According to most schools there were only twenty-four 
Patriarchs. These are said to have been foretold by the Buddha 
and twenty -four is a usual number in such series 1 . The twenty- 
fourth Patriarch Simha Bhikshu or Simhalaputra went to 
Kashmir and suffered martyrdom there at the hands of Mihira- 
kula 2 without appointing a successor. But the school of Bodhi- 
dharma continues the series, reckoning him as the twenty- 
eighth, and the first of the Chinese Patriarchs. Now since the 
three Patriarchs between the martyr and Bodhidharma are all 
described as living in southern India, whereas such travellers 
as Fa-Hsien obviously thought that the true doctrine was to be 
found in northern India, and since Bodhidharma left India 
altogether, it is probable that the later Patriarchs represent the 

most important, because it professes to be translated (A.D. 472) from an Indian 
work, which, however, is not in the Tibetan Canon and is not known in Sanskrit. 
The Chinese text, as we have it, is probably not a translation from the Sanskrit, but 
a compilation made in the sixth century which, however, acquired considerable 
authority. See Maspero in Melanges d Indianisme: Sylvain Levi, pp. 129-149, and 
B.E.F.E.0. 1911, pp. 344-348. Other works are the Fo-tsu-t ung-chi (Nanjio, 1661), 
of Chih P an (c, 1270), belonging to the T ien-t ai school, and the Ching-te-ch uan- 
teng-lu together with the Tsung-men-t ung-yao-hsii-chi (Nanjio, 1524, 1526) both 
belonging to the school of Bodhidharma. See also Nanjio, 1528, 1529. The common 
list of Patriarchs is as follows: 1. Mahaka^yapa; 2. Ananda; 3. Sanavasa or 6ana- 
kavasa; 4. Upagupta; 5. Dhritaka; 6. Micchaka. Here the name of Vasumitra is 
inserted by some but omitted by others; 7. Buddhanandi ; 8. Buddhamitra; 9. ParsVa; 
10. Punyayasas; 11. Asvaghosha; 12. Kapimala; 13. Nagarjuna; 14. Deva (Kana- 
deva); 15. Rahulata; 16. Sanghanandi; 17. Sanghayasas; 18. Kumarata; 19. Jayata; 
20. Vasubandhu; 21. Manura; 22. Haklena or Padmaratna; 23. Simha Bhikshu; 
24. Basiasita; 25. Putriomita or Punyamitra; 26. Prajnatara; 27 (or 28, if Vasu 
mitra is reckoned) Bodhidharma. Many of these names are odd and are only con 
jectural restorations made from the Chinese transcription, for which see Nanjio, 1340. 
Other lists of Patriarchs vary from that given above, partly because they represent 
the traditions of other schools. It is not strange, for instance, if the Sarvastivadins 
did not recognize Nagarjuna as a Patriarch. Two of their lists have been preserved 
by Seng-yu (Nanjio, 1476) who wrote about 520. Some notes on the Patriarchs and 
reproductions of Chinese pictures representing them will be found in Dore", pp. 244 ff. 
It is extremely curious that Asvaghosha is represented as a woman. 

1 It is found, for instance, in the lists of the Jain Tirthankaras and in some 
accounts of the Buddhas and of the Avataras of Vishnu. 

2 See Watters, Yuan Chwang, p. 290. But the dates offer some difficulty, for 
Mihirakula, the celebrated Hun chieftain, is usually supposed to have reigned about 
510-540 A.D. Taranatha (Schiefner, p. 95) speaks of a martyr called Malikabuddhi. 
See, too, ib. p. 306. 


spiritual genealogy of some school which was not the Church 
as established at Nalanda 1 . 

It will be convenient to summarize briefly here the history 
of Bodhidharma s school. Finding that his doctrines were not 
altogether acceptable to the Emperor Wu-Ti (who did not relish 
being told that his pious exertions were vain works of no value) 
he retired to Lo-yang and before his death designated as his 
successor Hui-k o. It is related of Hui-k o that when he first 
applied for instruction he could not attract Bodhidharma s 
attention and therefore stood before the sage s door during a 
whole winter night until the snow reached his knees. Bodhi- 
dharma indicated that he did not think this test of endurance 
remarkable. Hui-k o then took a knife, cut off his own arm and 
presented it to the teacher who accepted him as a pupil and 
ultimately gave him the insignia of the Patriarchate a robe 
and bowl. He taught for thirty-four years and is said to have 
mixed freely with the lowest and most debauched reprobates. 
His successors were Seng-ts an, Tao-hsin, Hung-jen, and Hui- 
neng 2 who died in 713 and declined to nominate a successor, 
saying that the doctrine was well established. The bowl of 
Bodhidharma was buried with him. Thus the Patriarch was not 
willing to be an Erastian head of the Church and thought the 
Church could get on without him. The object of the Patriarchate 
was simply to insure the correct transmission from teacher to 
scholar of certain doctrines, and this precaution was especially 
necessary in sects which rejected scriptural authority and relied 
on personal instruction. So soon as there were several competent 
teachers handing on the tradition such a safeguard was felt to 
be unnecessary. 

That this feeling was just is shown by the fact that the 
school of Bodhidharma is still practically one in teaching. But 
its small regard for scripture and insistence on oral instruction 
caused the principal monasteries to regard themselves as centres 
with an apostolic succession of their own and to form divisions 
which were geographical rather than doctrinal. They are often 

1 It is clear that the school of Valabhi was to some extent a rival of Nalanda. 

2 For a portrait of Hui-neng see Kokka, No. 297. The names of Bodhidharma s 

successors are in Chinese characters jj ?lj, f!|^5|l > Islfe 5 


called school (tsung), but the term is not correct, if it implies 
that the difference is similar to that which separates the 
Ch an-tsung and Lii-tsung or schools of contemplation and of 
discipline. Even in the lifetime of Hui-neng there seems to 
have been a division, for he is sometimes called the Patriarch 
of the South, Shen-Hsiu 1 being recognized as Patriarch of the 
North. But all subsequent divisions of the Ch an-tsung trace 
their lineage to Hui-neng. Two of his disciples founded two 
schools called Nan Yueh and Ch ing Yuan 2 and between the 
eighth and tenth centuries these produced respectively two and 
three subdivisions, known together as Wu-tsung or five schools. 
They take their names from the places where their founders 
dwelt and are the schools of Wei-Yang, Lin-Chi, Ts ao-Tung, 
Yun-Men and Fa-Yen 3 . This is the chronological order, but the 
most important school is the Lin-Chi, founded by I-Hsuan 4 , 
who resided on the banks of a river 5 in Chih-li and died in 867. 
It is not easy to discriminate the special doctrines 6 of the 
Lin-Chi for it became the dominant form of the school to such 
an extent that other variants are little more than names. But 
it appears to have insisted on the transmission of spiritual truths 
not only by oral instruction but by a species of telepathy between 
teacher and pupil culminating in sudden illumination. At the 
present day the majority of Chinese monasteries profess to 
belong to the Ch an-tsung and it has encroached on other schools. 
Thus it is now accepted on the sacred island of P uto which 
originally followed the Lii-tsung. 

Although the Ch an school did not value the study of 
scripture as part of the spiritual life, yet it by no means neglected 
letters and can point to a goodly array of ecclesiastical authors, 

Much biographical inf onnation respecting this and other 

schools will be found in Dore, vols. vn and vm. But there is little to record in the 
way of events or literary and doctrinal movements. 

5 Lin-Chi means coming to the ford. Is this an allusion to the Pali expression 
Sotapanno? The name appears in Japanese as Rinzai. Most educated Chinese 
monks when asked as to their doctrine say they belong to the Lin-Chi. 

6 They are generally called the three mysteries (Hsiian) and the three important 
points ( Yao), but I have not been able to obtain any clear explanation of what they 
mean. See Edkins, Chinese Buddhism, p. 164, and Hackmann, I.e. p. 250. 


extending down to modern times 1 . More than twenty of their 
treatises have been admitted into the Tripitaka. Several of 
these are historical and discuss the succession of Patriarchs and 
abbots, but the most characteristic productions of the sect are 
collections of aphorisms, usually compiled by the disciples of 
a teacher who himself committed nothing to writing 2 . 

In opposition to the Contemplative School or Tsung-men, 
all the others are sometimes classed together as Chiao-men. 
This dichotomy perhaps does no more than justice to the im 
portance of Bodhidharma s school, but is hardly scientific, for, 
whatever may be the numerical proportion, the other schools 
differ from one another as much as they differ from it. They 
all agree in recognizing the authority not only of a founder but 
of a special sacred book. We may treat first of one which, like 
the Tsung-men, belongs specially to the Buddhism of the Far 
East and is both an offshoot of the Tsung-men and a protest 
against it there being nothing incompatible in this double 
relationship. This is the T ien-t ai 3 school which takes its name 
from a celebrated monastery in the province of Che-kiang. The 
founder of this establishment and of the sect was called Chih-K ai 
or Chih-I 4 and followed originally Bodhidharma s teaching, but 
ultimately rejected the view that contemplation is all-sufficient, 
while still claiming to derive his doctrine from Nagarjuna. He 
had a special veneration for the Lotus Sutra and paid attention 
to ceremonial. He held that although the Buddha-mind is 
present in all living beings, yet they do not of themselves come 
to the knowledge and use of it, so that instruction is necessary 
to remove error and establish true ideas. The phrase Chih-kuan 5 
is almost the motto of the school : it is a translation of the two 
words Samatha and Vipassana, taken to mean calm and insight. 

1 Wieger, Bouddhisme Chinois, p. 108, states that 230 works belonging to this 
sect were published under the Manchu dynasty. 

2 See e.g. Nanjio, Cat. 1527, 1532. 

3 ^fjj, jqf . Tendai in Japanese. It is also called in China J!jl Fa-hua. 

* ^HK* Als oftens P okenofasChih-che-ta-shih^^^gj]}. Officially 
he is often styled the fourth Patriarch of the school. See Dore, p. 449. 

6 JjLraSi* ^ n ^ a ^ Buddhism also, especially in later works, Samatha and 
Vipassana may be taken as a compendium of the higher life as they are respectively 
the results of the two sets of religious exercises called Adhicitta and Adhipanna. 
(See Ang. Nik. in. 88.) 


The T ien-Tai is distinguished by its many-sided and 
almost encyclopaedic character. Chih-I did not like the exclusive- 
ness of the Contemplative School. He approved impartially 
of ecstasy, literature, ceremonial and discipline: he wished to 
find a place for everything and a point of view from which every 
doctrine might be admitted to have some value. Thus he divided 
the teaching of the Buddha into five periods, regarded as 
progressive not contradictory, and expounded respectively in 
(a) the Hua-yen Sutra; (6) the Hinayana Sutras; (c) the Leng- 
yen-ching; (d) the Prajna-paramita; (e) the Lotus Sutra which 
is the crown, quintessence and plenitude of all Buddhism. He 
also divided religion into eight parts 1 , sometimes counted as 
four, the latter half of the list being the more important. The 
names are collection, progress, distinction and completion. 
These terms indicate different ways of looking at religion, all 
legitimate but not equally comprehensive or just in perspective. 
By collection is meant the Hinayana, the name being apparently 
due to the variously catalogued phenomena which occupy the 
disciple in the early stages of his progress : the scriptures, divisions 
of the universe, states of the human minds and so on. Progress 
(T ung, which might also be rendered as transition or communi 
cation) is applicable to the Hina and Mahayana alike and regards 
the religious life as a series of stages rising from the state of an 
unconverted man to that of a Buddha. Pieh, or distinction, is 
applicable only to the Mahayana and means the special excel 
lences of a Bodhisattva. Yuan, completeness or plenitude, is 
the doctrine of the Lotus which embraces all aspects of religion. 
In a similar spirit of synthesis and conciliation Chih-I uses 
Nagarj una s view that truth is not of one kind. From the stand 
point of absolute truth all phenomena are void or unreal; on 
the other hand they are indubitably real for practical purposes. 
More just is the middle view which builds up the religious 
character. It sees that all phenomena both exist and do not 
exist and that thought cannot content itself with the hypothesis 
either of their real existence or of the void. Chih-I s teaching as 

. In Chinese jgf, j, ft, ^^, , jg, JJ||, ft . Tun, 

Chien, Pi-mi, Pu-ting, Tsang, T ung, Pieh, Yuan. See Nanjio, 1568, and for very 
different explanations of these obscure words, Edkins, Chinese Buddhism, p. 182, 
and Richard s New Testament of Higher Buddhism, p. 41. Masson-Oursel in J.A. 
1915, i. p. 305. 


to the nature of the Buddha is almost theistic. It regards the 
fundamental (pen) Buddhahood as not merely the highest reality 
but as constant activity exerting itself for the good of all 
beings. Distinguished from this fundamental Buddhahood is 
the derivative Buddhahood or trace (chi) left by the Buddha 
among men to educate them. There has been considerable 
discussion in the school as to the relative excellence of the pen 
and the chi 1 . 

The T ien-T ai school is important, not merely for its 
doctrines, but as having produced a great monastic establish 
ment and an illustrious line of writers. In spite of the orders 
of the Emperor who wished to retain him at Nanking, Chih-I 
retired to the highlands of Che-Kiang and twelve monasteries 
still mark various spots where he is said to have resided. He 
had some repute as an author, but more as a preacher. His 
words were recorded by his disciple Kuan-Ting 2 and in this 
way have been preserved two expositions of the Lotus and a 
treatise on his favourite doctrine of Chih-Kuan which together 
are termed the San-ta-pu, or Three Great Books. Similar 
spoken expositions of other sutras are also preserved. Some 
smaller treatises on his chief doctrines seem to be works of his 
own pen 3 . A century later Chan -Jan 4 , who is reckoned the 
ninth Patriarch of the T ien-t ai school, composed commentaries 
on the Three Great Books as well as some short original works. 
During the troubled period of the Five Dynasties, the T ien-t ai 
monasteries suffered severely and the sacred books were almost 
lost. But the school had a branch in Korea and a Korean priest 
called Ti-Kuan 5 re-established it in China. It continued to 
contribute literature to the Tripitaka until 1270 but after the 
tenth century its works, though numerous, lose their distinctive 
character and are largely concerned with magical formulae and 
the worship of Amida. 

The latter is the special teaching of the Pure Land school, 
also known as the Lotus school, or the Short Cut 6 . It is indeed 

1 and . 3 . The books are Nanjio, Nos. 1534, 1536, 1538. 

8 Among them is the compendium for beginners called Hsiao-chih-kuan, 
(Nanjio, 1540), partly translated in Beat s Catena, pp. 251 ff. 


a short cut to salvation, striking unceremoniously across all 
systems, for it teaches that simple faith in Amitabha (Amida) 
and invocation of his name can take the place of moral and 
intellectual endeavour. Its popularity is in proportion to its 
facility: its origin is ancient, its influence universal, but perhaps 
for this very reason its existence as a corporation is somewhat 
indistinct. It is also remarkable that though the Chinese 
Tripitaka contains numerous works dedicated to the honour of 
Amitabha, yet they are not described as composed by members 
of the Pure Land school but appear to be due to authors of all 
schools 1 . 

The doctrine, if not the school, was known in China before 
186, in which year there died at Lo-yang, a monk of the Yiieh- 
chih called Lokakshi, who translated the longer Sukhavati- 
vyuha. So far as I know, there is no reason for doubting these 
statements 2 . The date is important for the history of doctrine, 
since it indicates that the sutra existed in Sanskrit some time 
previously. Another translation by the Parthian An Shih-Kao, 
whose activity falls between 148 and 170 A.D. may have been 
earlier and altogether twelve translations were made before 
1000 A.D. of which five are extant 3 . Several of the earlier 
translators were natives of Central Asia, so it is permissible 
to suppose that the sutra was esteemed there. The shorter 
Sukhavati-vyuha was translated by Kumarajiva (c. 402) and 
later by Hsiian Chuang. The Amitayurdhyanasutra was trans 
lated by Kalayasas about 424. These three books 4 are the 
principal scriptures of the school and copies of the greater 
Sukhavati may still be found in almost every Chinese monastery, 
whatever principles it professes. 

Hui Yuan 5 who lived from 333 to 416 is considered as the 
founder of the school. He was in his youth an enthusiastic 

1 The list of Chinese authors in Nanjio s Catalogue, App. in, describes many as 
belonging to the T ien-t ai, Avatamsaka or Dhyana schools, but none as belonging 
to the Ching-T u. 

2 For the authorities, see Nanjio, p. 381. 

3 Nanjio, p. 10, note. 

4 They are all translated in S.B.E. XLIX. The two former exist in Sanskrit. 
The Amitayurdhyana is known only in the Chinese translation. They are called 

in Chinese ffi and 


Taoist and after he turned Buddhist is said to have used the 
writings of Chuang-tzu to elucidate his new faith. He founded 
a brotherhood, and near the monastery where he settled was 
a pond in which lotus flowers grew, hence the brotherhood was 
known as the White Lotus school 1 . For several centuries 2 it 
enjoyed general esteem. Pan-chou, one of its Patriarchs, re 
ceived the title of Kuo-shih about 770 A.D., and Shan-tao, who 
flourished about 650 and wrote commentaries, was one of its 
principal literary men 3 . He popularized the doctrine of the Pai- 
tao or White Way, that is, the narrow bridge leading to Paradise 
across which Amitabha will guide the souls of the faithful. But 
somehow the name of White Lotus became connected with 
conspiracy and rebellion until it was dreaded as the title of a 
formidable secret society, and ceased to be applied to the school 
as a whole. The teaching and canonical literature of the Pure 
Land school did not fall into disrepute but since it was admitted 
by other sects to be, if not the most excellent way, at least a 
permissible short cut to heaven, it appears in modern times less 
as a separate school than as an aspect of most schools 4 . The 
simple and emotional character of Amidism, the directness of 
its "Come unto me," appeal so strongly to the poor and un 
educated, that no monastery or temple could afford to neglect it. 
Two important Indian schools were introduced into China 
in the sixth and seventh centuries respectively and flourished 
until about 900 A.D. when they began to decay. These are the 
Chii-she-tsung and Fa-hsiang-tsung 5 . The first name is merely 
a Chinese transcription of the Sanskrit Ko sa and is due to the 
fact that the chief authority of the school is the Abhidharmakosa- 

1 3ifltt ^e early history of the school is related in a work called Lien- 
she-kao-hsien-ch uan, said to date from the Tsin dynasty. See for some account of 
the early worthies, Dore, pp. 280 ff. and 457 ff. Their biographies contain many 
visions and miracles. 

2 Apparently at least until 1042. See De Groot, Sectarianism, p. 163. The dated 
inscriptions in the grottoes of Lung-men indicate that the cult of Amitabha flourished 
especially from 647 to 715. See Chavannes, Mission. ArcheoL Tome I, deuxieme partie, 
p. 545. 


4 See for instance the tract called Hsiian-Fo-P u fjft jft and translated by 
Richard under the title of A Guide to Buddhahood, pp. 97 ff. 


sastra of Vasubandhu 1 . This work expounds the doctrine of the 
Sarvastivadins, but in a liberal spirit and without ignoring other 
views. Though the Chii-she-tsung represented the best scholastic 
tradition of India more adequately than any other Chinese sect, 
yet it was too technical and arid to become popular and both 
in China and Japan (where it is known as Kusha-shu) it was a 
system of scholastic philosophy rather than a form of religion. 
In China it did not last many centuries. 

The Fa-Hsiang school is similar inasmuch as it represented 
Indian scholasticism and remained, though much esteemed, 
somewhat academic. The name is a translation of Dharmalak- 
shana and the school is also known as Tz u-en-tsung 2 , and also 
as Wei-shih-hsiang-chiao because its principal text-book is the 
Ch eng-wei-shih-lun 3 . This name, equivalent to Vidyamatra, or 
Vijnanamatra, is the title of a work by Hsiian Chuang which 
appears to be a digest of ten Sanskrit commentaries on a little 
tract of thirty verses ascribed to Vasubandhu. As ultimate 
authorities the school also recognizes the revelations made to 
Asanga by Maitreya 4 and probably the Mahayanasutralankara 5 
expresses its views. It claims as its founder Silabhadra the 
teacher of Hsiian Chuang, but the latter was its real parent. 

Closely allied to it but reckoned as distinct is the school called 
the Hua-yen-tsung 6 because it was based on the Hua-yen-ching 
or Avatamsakasutra. The doctrines of this work and of Nagar- 
juna may be conveniently if not quite correctly contrasted as 
pantheistic and nihilistic. The real founder and first patriarch 
was Tu-Fa-Shun who died in 640 but the school sometimes bears 
the name of Hsien-Shou, the posthumous title of its third 
Patriarch who contributed seven works to the Tripitaka 7 . It 

1 See Waiters, On Yuan Chwang, I. 210, and also Takakusu, Journal of the Pali 
Text Soc. 1905, p. 132. 

2 /^[J@l7T? The nftme re ^ ers not to tne doctrines of the school, but to 
Tz u-en-tai-shih, a title given to Kuei-chi the disciple of Hsiian Chuang who was 
one of its principal teachers and taught at a monastery called Tz u-en. 

8 jjScPfUHJcffif See Nanjio, Cat. Nos. 1197 and 1215. 
4 See Watters, On Yuan Chtvang, I. pp. 355 ff. 
6 Ed. and transl. by Sylvain Levi, 1911. 

7 His name when alive was Fa-tsang. See Nanjio, Cat. p. 4G2, and Dor4, 450. 
The Empress Wu patronized him. 

E. III. 2 1 


began to wane in the tenth century but has a distinguished 
literary record. 

The Lii-tsung or Vinaya school 1 was founded by Tao Hsiian 
(595-667). It differs from those already mentioned inasmuch 
as it emphasizes discipline and asceticism as the essential part 
of the religious life. Like the T ien-t ai this school arose in China. 
It bases itself on Indian authorities, but it does not appear that 
in thus laying stress on the Vinaya it imitated any Indian sect, 
although it caught the spirit of the early Hinayana schools. 
The numerous works of the founder indicate a practical tem 
perament inclined not to mysticism or doctrinal subtlety but 
to biography, literary history and church government. Thus he 
continued the series called Memoirs of Eminent Monks and 
wrote on the family and country of the Buddha. He compiled 
a catalogue of the Tripitaka, as it was in his time, and collec 
tions of extracts, as well as of documents relating to the con 
troversies between Buddhists and Taoists 2 . Although he took 
as his chief authority the Dharmagupta Vinaya commonly 
known as the Code in Four Sections, he held, like most Chinese 
Buddhists, that there is a complete and perfect doctrine which 
includes and transcends all the vehicles. But he insisted, 
probably as a protest against the laxity or extravagance of 
many monasteries, that morality and discipline are the in 
dispensable foundation of the religious life. He was highly 
esteemed by his contemporaries and long after his death the 
Emperor Mu-tsung (821-5) wrote a poem in his honour. The 
school is still respected and it is said that the monks of its 
principal monastery, Pao-hua-shan in Kiangsu, are stricter 
and more learned than any other. 

The school called Chen-yen (in Japanese Shin-gon), true 
word, or Mi-chiao 3 , secret teaching, equivalent to the Sanskrit 
Mantrayana or Tantrayana, is the latest among the recognized 
divisions of Chinese Buddhism since it first made its appearance 
in the eighth century. The date, like that of the translation of 
the Amida scriptures is important, for the school was introduced 

1 lifiTj? Also ca l led Nan Shan or Southern mountain school from a locality 
in Shensi. 

8 iJL *1L Nanjio, Cat. 1493, 1469, 1470, 1120, 1481, 1483, 1484, 1471. 
8 ittWorS?^. 


from India and it follows that its theories and practices were 
openly advocated at this period and probably were not of repute 
much earlier. It is akin to the Buddhism of Tibet and may be 
described in its higher aspects as an elaborate and symbolic 
pantheism, which represents the one spirit manifesting himself 
in a series of emanations and reflexes. In its popular and un 
fortunately commoner aspect it is simply polytheism, fetichism 
and magic. In many respects it resembles the Pure Land school. 
Its principal deity (the word is not inaccurate) is Vairocana, 
analogous to Amitabha, and probably like him a Persian sun god 
in origin. It is also a short cut to salvation, for, without denying 
the efficiency of more laborious and ascetic methods, it promises 
to its followers a similar result by means of formulae and cere 
monies. Like the Pure Land school it has become in China not 
so much a separate corporation as an aspect, and often the 
most obvious and popular aspect, of all Buddhist schools. 

It claims Vajrabodhi as its first Patriarch. He was a monk 
of the Brahman caste who arrived in China from southern 
India 1 in 719 and died in 730 after translating several Tantras 
and spells. His companion and successor was Amoghavajra of 
whose career something has already been said. The fourth 
Patriarch, Hui Kuo, was the instructor of the celebrated Japanese 
monk Kobo Daishi who established the school in Japan under 
the name of Shingon 2 . 

The principal scripture of this sect is the Ta-jih-ching or 
sutra of the Sun-Buddha 3 . A distinction is drawn between 
exoteric and esoteric doctrine (the "true word") and the various 
phases of Buddhist thought are arranged in ten classes. Of 
these the first nine are merely preparatory, but in the last or 
esoteric phase, the adept becomes a living Buddha and receives 
full intuitive knowledge. In this respect the Tan trie school 
resembles the teaching of Bodhidharma but not in detail. It 
teaches that Vairocana is the whole world, which is divided into 
Garbhadhatu (material) and Vajradhatu (indestructible), the 
two together forming Dharmadhatu. The manifestations of 

1 From Mo-lai-ye, which seems to mean the extreme south of India. Dore gives 
some Chinese legends about him, p. 299. 

2 For an appreciative criticism of the sect as known in Japan, see Anesaki s 
Buddhist Art, chap. in. 

3 Nanjio, No. 530. Nos. 533, 534 and 1039 are also important texts of this sect. 


Vairocana s body to himself that is Buddhas and Bodhisattvas 
are represented symbolically by diagrams of several circles 1 . 
But it would be out of place to dwell further on the dogmatic 
theology of the school, for I cannot discover that it was ever 
of importance in China whatever may have been its influence 
in Japan. What appealed only too powerfully to Chinese 
superstition was the use of spells, charms and magical formulae 
and the doctrine that since the universe is merely idea, thoughts 
and facts are equipollent. This doctrine (which need not be the 
outcome of metaphysics, but underlies the magical practices 
of many savage tribes) produced surprising results when applied 
to funeral ceremonies, which in China have always formed the 
major part of religion, for it was held that ceremonial can repre 
sent and control the fortunes of the soul, that is to say that if 
a ceremony represents figuratively the rescue of a soul from a 
pool of blood, then the soul which is undergoing that punish 
ment will be delivered. It was not until the latter part of the 
eighth century that such theories and ceremonies were accepted 
by Chinese Buddhism, but they now form a large part of it. 

Although in Japan Buddhism continued to produce new 
schools until the thirteenth century, no movement in China 
attained this status after about 730, and Lamaism, though its 
introduction produced considerable changes in the north, is 
not usually reckoned as a Tsung. But numerous societies and 
brotherhoods arose especially in connection with the Pure Land 
school and are commonly spoken of as sects. They differ from 
the schools mentioned above in having more or less the character 
of secret societies, sometimes merely brotherhoods like the 
Freemasons but sometimes political in their aims. Among those 
whose tenets are known that which has most religion and least 
politics in its composition appears to be the Wu-wei-chiao 2 , 
founded about 1620 by one Lo-tsu 3 who claimed to have received 
a revelation contained in five books. It is strictly vegetarian 

1 In the T ien-t ai and Chen-yen schools, and indeed in Chinese Buddhism 
generally, Dharma (Fa in Chinese) is regarded as cosmic law. Buddhas are the 
visible expression of Dharma. Hence they are identified with it and the whole 
process of cosmic evolution is regarded as the manifestation of Buddhahood. 

. See the account by Edkins, Chinese Buddhism, pp. 271 ff. 


and antiritualistic, objecting to the use of images, incense and 
candles in worship. 

There are many other sects with a political tinge. The pro 
clivity of the Chinese to guilds, corporations and secret societies 
is well known and many of these latter have a religious basis. 
All such bodies are under the ban of the Government, for they 
have always been suspected with more or less justice of favouring 
an ti -social or an ti -dynastic ideas. But, mingled with such 
political aspirations, there is often present the desire for co 
operation in leading privately a religious life which, if made 
public, would be hampered by official restrictions. The most 
celebrated of these sects is the White Lotus. Under the Yuan 
dynasty it was anti-Mongol, and prepared the way for the 
advent of the Ming. When the Ming dynasty in its turn 
became decadent, we hear again of the White Lotus coupled 
with rebellion, and similarly after the Manchus had passed their 
meridian, its beautiful but ill-omened name frequently appears. 
It seems clear that it is an ancient and persistent society with 
some idea of creating a millennium, which becomes active when 
the central government is weak and corrupt. Not unlike the 
White Lotus is the secret society commonly known as the Triad 
but called by its members the Heaven and Earth Association. 
The T ai-p ing sect, out of which the celebrated rebellion arose, 
was similar but its inspiration seems to have come from a 
perversion of Christianity. The Tsai-Li sect 1 is still prevalent 
in Peking, Tientsin, and the province of Shantung. I should 
exceed the scope of my task if I attempted to examine these 
sects in detail 2 , for their relation to Buddhism is often doubtful. 
Most of them combine with it Taoist and other beliefs and some 
of them expect a Messiah or King of Righteousness who is 
usually identified with Maitreya. It is easy to see how at this 
point hostility to the existing Government arises and provokes 
not unnatural resentment 3 . 

1 IJlE ? See Cnina Minion Year Book, 1896, p. 43. 

2 For some account of them, see Stanton, The Triad Society, White Lotus 
Society, etc., 1900, reprinted from China Review, vols. xxi, xxn, and De Groot, 
Sectarianism and religious persecution in China, vol. i. pp. 149-259. 

3 The Republic of China has not changed much from the ways of the Empire. 
The Peking newspapers of June 17, 1914, contain a Presidential Edict stating that 
"the invention of heretical religions by ill-disposed persons is strictly prohibited 
by law," and that certain religious societies are to be suppressed. 


Recently several attempts have been made to infuse life 
and order into Chinese Buddhism. Japanese influence can be 
traced in most of them and though they can hardly be said to 
represent a new school, they attempt to go back to Mahayanism 
as it was when first introduced into China. The Hinayana is 
considered as a necessary preliminary to the Mahayana and 
the latter is treated as existing in several schools, among which 
are included the Pure Land school, though the Contemplative 
and Tantric schools seem not to be regarded with favour. They 
are probably mistrusted as leading to negligence and super 
stition 1 . 

1 See, for an account of such a reformed sect, 0. Francke, " Ein Buddhistischer 
Reform versuch in China," T oung Poo, 1909, p. 567. 


CHINA (continued) 

THE Buddhism treated of in this chapter does not include 
Lamaism, which being identical with the religion of Tibet and 
Mongolia is more conveniently described elsewhere. Ordinary 
Chinese Buddhism and Lamaism are distinct, but are divided 
not so much by doctrine as by the race, language and usages of 
the priests. Chinese Buddhism has acquired some local colour, 
but it is still based on the teaching and practice imported from 
India before the Yuan dynasty, whereas Lamaist tradition is 
not direct: it represents Buddhism as received not from India 
but from Tibet. Some holy places, such as P uto and Wu-t ai- 
shan are frequented by both Lamas and Chinese monks, and 
Tibetan prayers and images may sometimes be seen in Chinese 
temples, but as a rule the two divisions do not coalesce. 

Chinese Buddhism has a physiognomy and language of its 
own. The Paraphrase of the Sacred Edict in a criticism, which, 
though unfriendly, is not altogether inaccurate, says that 
Buddhists attend only to the heart, claim that Buddha can be 
found in the heart, and aim at becoming Buddhas. This sounds 
strange to those who are acquainted only with the Buddhism of 
Ceylon and Burma, but is intelligible as a popular statement of 
Bodhidharma s doctrine. Heart 1 means the spiritual nature of 
man, essentially identical with the Buddha nature and capable of 
purification and growth so that all beings can become Buddhas. 
But in the Far East the doctrine became less pantheistic and 
more ethical than the corresponding Indian ideas. The Buddha 
in the heart is the internal light and monitor rather than the 
universal spirit. Amida, Kuan-yin and Ti-tsang with other 
radiant and benevolent spirits have risen from humanity and 
will help man to rise as they have done. Chinese Buddhists do 
not regard Amida s vows as an isolated achievement. All 

1 ^Cj) . For a specimen of devotional literature about the heart see the little 
tract translated in China Branch, B.A.S. xxm. pp. 9-22. 


Boddhisattvas have done the same and carried out their resolu 
tion in countless existences. Like the Madonna these gracious 
figures appeal directly to the emotions and artistic senses and 
their divinity offers no difficulty, for in China Church and State 
alike have always recognized deification as a natural process. 
One other characteristic of all Far Eastern Buddhism may be 
noticed. The Buddha is supposed to have preached many creeds 
and codes at different periods of his life and each school supposes 
its own to be the last, best and all inclusive. 

As indicated elsewhere, the essential part of the Buddhist 
Church is the monkhood and it is often hard to say if a Chinese 
layman is a Buddhist or not. It will therefore be best to de 
scribe briefly the organization and life of a monastery, then the 
services performed there and to some extent attended by the 
laity, and thirdly the rites performed by monks on behalf of 
the laity, especially funeral ceremonies. 

The Chinese Tripitaka contains no less than five recensions 
of the Vinaya, and the later pilgrims who visited India made 
it their special object to obtain copies of the most correct 
and approved code. But though the theoretical value of these 
codes is still admitted, they have for practical purposes been 
supplemented by other manuals of which the best known are 
the Fan-wang-ching or Net of Brahma 1 and the Pai-chang- 
ts ung-lin-ch ing-kuei or Rules of Purity of the Monasteries of 
Pai Chang. 

The former is said to have been translated in A.D. 406 by 
Kumarajiva and to be one chapter of a larger Sanskrit work. 
Some passages of it, particularly the condemnation of legislation 
which forbids or imposes conditions on the practice of Buddhism 2 , 
read as if they had been composed in China rather than India, 
and its whole attitude towards the Hinayanist Vinaya as 
something inadequate and superseded, can hardly have been 
usual in India or China even in the time of I-Ching (700 A.D.). 
Nothing is known of the Indian original, but it certainly was not 
the Brahmajalasutta of the Pali Canon 3 . Though the translation 

For text translation and commentary, see De Groot, Code du 

MaMydna en Chine, 1893, see also Nanjio, No. 1087. 

2 De Groot, p. 81. 

3 The identity of name seems due to a similarity of metaphor. The Brahmajala 
sutta is a net of many meshes to catch all forms of error. The Fan-wang-ching 


is ascribed to so early a date, there is no evidence that the work 
carried weight as an authority before the eighth century. 
Students of the Vinaya, like I-Ching, ignore it. But when the 
scholarly endeavour to discover the most authentic edition of 
the Vinaya began to flag, this manual superseded the older 
treatises. Whatever external evidence there may be for 
attributing it to Kumarajiva, its contents suggest a much later 
date and there is no guarantee that a popular manual may not 
have received additions. The rules are not numbered consecutively 
but as 1-10 and 1-48, and it may be that the first class is older 
than the second. In many respects it expounds a late and even 
degenerate form of Buddhism for it contemplates not only a 
temple ritual (including the veneration of images and sacred 
books), but also burning the head or limbs as a religious practice. 
But it makes no allusion to salvation through faith in Amitabha 
and says little about services to be celebrated for the dead 1 . 

Its ethical and disciplinary point of view is dogmatically 
Mahayanist and similar to that of the Bodhicaryavatara. The 
Hinayana is several times denounced 2 and called heretical, but, 
setting aside a little intolerance and superstition, the teaching 
of this manual is truly admirable and breathes a spirit of active 
charity a desire not only to do no harm but to help and rescue. 

It contains a code of ten primary and forty -eight secondary 
commandments, worded as prohibitions, but equivalent to 
positive injunctions, inasmuch as they blame the neglect of 
various active duties. The ten primary commandments are 
called Pratimoksha and he who breaks them is Parajika 3 , that 
is to say, he ipso facto leaves the road leading to Buddhahood 
and is condemned to a long series of inferior births. They pro 
hibit taking life, theft, unchastity, lying, trading in alcoholic 
liquors, evil speaking, boasting, avarice, hatred and blasphemy. 
Though infraction of the secondary commandments has less 
permanently serious consequence, their observance is indis 
pensable for all monks. Many of them are amplifications of the 

compares the varieties of Buddhist opinion to the meshes of a net (De Groot, I.e. 
p. 26), but the net is the all-inclusive common body of truth. 

1 See, however, sections 20 and 39. 

2 See especially De Groot, I.e. p. 68, where the reading of the Abhidharma is 
forbidden. Though this name is not confined to the Hinayana, A-pi-t an in Chinese 
seems to be rarely used as a title of Mahayanist books. 

3 The Indian words are transliterated in the Chinese text. 


ten major commandments and are directed against indirect and 
potential sins, such as the possession of weapons. The Bhikshu 
may not eat flesh, drink alcohol, set forests on fire or be con 
nected with any business injurious to others, such as the slave 
trade. He is warned against gossip, sins of the eye, foolish 
practices such as divination and even momentary forgetfulness 
of his high calling and duties. But it is not sufficient that he 
should be self -concentrated and without offence. He must 
labour for the welfare and salvation of others, and it is a sin 
to neglect such duties as instructing the ignorant, tending the 
sick, hospitality, saving men or animals from death or slavery, 
praying 1 for all in danger, exhorting to repentance, sympathy 
with all living things. A number of disciplinary rules prescribe 
a similarly high standard for daily monastic life. The monk must 
be strenuous and intelligent; he must yield obedience to his 
superiors and set a good example to the laity : he must not teach 
for money or be selfish in accepting food and gifts. As for creed 
he is strictly bidden to follow and preach the Mahayana: it 
is a sin to follow or preach the doctrine of the Sravakas 2 or 
read their books or not aspire to ultimate Buddhahood. Very 
remarkable are the injunctions to burn one s limbs in honour 
of Buddhas: to show great respect to copies of the scriptures 
and to make vows. From another point of view the first and 
forty-seventh secondary commandments are equally remarkable : 
the first bids officials discharge their duties with due respect 
to the Church and the other protests against improper legis 

The Fan-wang-ching is tl*> most important and most 
authoritative statement of the general principles regulating 
monastic life in China. So far as my own observation goes, it 
is known and respected in all monasteries. The Pai-chang- 
ch irig-kuei 3 deals rather with the details of organization and 
ritual and has not the same universal currency. It received the 

1 More accurately reading the sutras on their behalf, but this exercise is practi 
cally equivalent to intercessory prayer. 

3 The full title is f . Pai Chang is apparently to be 

taken as the name of the author, but it is the designation of a monastery used as a 
personal name. See Hackmann in T oung Pao, 1908, pp. 651-662. It is No. 1642 in 
Nanjio s Catalogue. He says that it has been revised and altered. 


approval of the Yuan dynasty 1 and is still accepted as authori 
tative in many monasteries and gives a correct account of their 
general practice. It was composed by a monk of Kiang-si, who 
died in 814 A.D. He belonged to the Ch an school, but his rules 
are approved by others. I will not attempt to summarize them, 
but they include most points of ritual and discipline mentioned 
below. The author indicates the relations which should prevail 
between Church and State by opening his work with an account 
of the ceremonies to be performed on the Emperor s birthday, 
and similar occasions. 

Large Buddhist temples almost always form part of a 
monastery, but smaller shrines, especially in towns, are often 
served by a single priest. The many-storeyed towers called 
pagodas which are a characteristic beauty of Chinese landscapes, 
are in their origin stupas erected over relics but at the present 
day can hardly be called temples or religious buildings, for they 
are not places of worship and generally owe their construction 
to the dictates of Feng-shui or geomancy. Monasteries are 
usually built outside towns and by preference on high ground, 
whence shan or mountain has come to be the common designa 
tion of a convent, whatever its position. The sites of these 
establishments show the deep feeling of cultivated Chinese for 
nature and their appreciation of the influence of scenery on 
temper, an appreciation which connects them spiritually with 
the psalms of the monks and nuns preserved in the Pali Canon. 
The architecture is not self-assertive. Its aim is not to produce 
edifices complete and satisfying in their own proportions but 
rather to harmonize buildings with landscape, to adjust courts 
and pavilions to the slope of the hillside and diversify the groves 
of fir and bamboo with shrines and towers as fantastic and yet 
as natural as the mountain boulders. The reader who wishes 
to know more of them should consult Johnston s Buddhist 
China, a work which combines in a rare degree sound knowledge 
and literary charm. 

A monastery 2 is usually a quadrangle surrounded by a wall. 

1 See T oung Pao, 1904, pp. 437 ff. 

2 It i8 probable that the older Chinese monasteries attempted to reproduce the 
arrangement of Nalanda and other Indian establishments. Unfortunately Hsiian 
Chuang and the other pilgrims give us few details as to the appearance of Indian 
monasteries: they tell us, however, that they were surrounded by a wall, that the 
monks quarters were near this wall, that there were halls where choral services 


Before the great gate, which faces south, or in the first court 
is a tank, spanned by a bridge, wherein grows the red lotus and 
tame fish await doles of biscuit. The sides of the quadrangle 
contain dwelling rooms, refectories, guest chambers, store 
houses, a library, printing press and other premises suitable to 
a learned and pious foundation. The interior space is divided 
into two or three courts, bordered by a veranda. In each court 
is a hall of worship or temple, containing a shelf or alcove on 
which are set the sacred images: In front of them stands a table, 
usually of massive wood, bearing vases of flowers, bowls for 
incense sticks and other vessels. The first temple is called the 
Hall of the Four Great Kings and the figures in it represent 
beings who are still in the world of transmigration and have not 
yet attained Buddhahood. They include gigantic images of the 
Four Kings, Maitreya, the Buddha designate of the future, and 
Wei-to 1 , a military Bodhisattva sometimes identified with Indra. 
Kuan-ti, the Chinese God of War, is often represented in this 
building. The chief temple, called the Precious Hall of the Great 
Hero 2 , is in the second court and contains the principal images. 
Very commonly there are nine figures on either side representing 
eighteen disciples of the Buddha and known as the Eighteen 
Lohan or Arhats 3 . Above the altar are one or more large gilt 

were performed and that there were triads of images. But the Indian buildings had 
three stories. See Chavannes, Memoir & sur les Eeligieux Eminents, 1894, p. 85. 

1 jl|L[Jfj or Up! For thia personage see the article in B.E.F.E.O. 1916. 
No. 3, by Peri who identifies him with Wei, the general of the Heavenly Kings who 
appeared to Tao Hsiian the founder of the Vinaya school and became popular as 
a protecting deity of Buddhism. The name is possibly a mistaken transcription of 

3 $S/JiL. See Levi and Chavannes two articles in J.A. 1916, I and n, and 
/l>| tx\i 

Watters in J.R.A.S. 1898, p. 329, for an account of these personages. The original 
number, still found in a few Chinese temples as well as in Korea, Japan and Tibet was 
sixteen. Several late sutras con tain the idea that the Buddha entrusted the protection 
of his religion to four or sixteen disciples and bade them not enter Nirvana but tarry 
until the advent of Maitreya. The Ta-A-lo-han-nan-t i-mi-to-lo-so-shuo-fa-chu-chi 
(Nanjio, 1466) is an account of these sixteen disciples and of their spheres of in 
fluence. The Buddha assigned to each a region within which it is his duty to guard 
the faith. They will not pass from this life before the next Buddha comes. Pindola 
is the chief of them. Nothing is known of the work cited except that it was translated 
in 654 by Hsiian Chuang, who, according to Watters, used an earlier translation. 
As the Arhats arc Indian personalities, and their spheres are mapped out from the 


images. When there is only one it is usually Sakya-muni, but 
more often there are three. Such triads are variously composed 
and the monks often speak of them vaguely as the "three 
precious ones," without seeming to attach much importance to 
their identity 1 . The triad is loosely connected with the idea of 
the three bodies of Buddha but this explanation does not always 
apply and the central figure is sometimes 0-mi-to or Kuan-yin, 
who are the principal recipients of the worship offered by the 
laity. The latter deity has usually a special shrine at the back 
of the main altar and facing the north door of the hall, in which 
her merciful activity as the saviour of mankind is represented 
in a series of statuettes or reliefs. Other Bodhisattvas such as 
Ta-shih-chi (Mahasthamaprapta)and Ti-tsang also have separate 
shrines in or at the side of the great hall 2 . The third hall contains 
as a rule only small images. It is used for expounding the 
scriptures and for sermons, if the monastery has a preacher, but 
is set apart for the religious exercises of the monks rather than 
the devotions of the laity. In very large monasteries there is a 
fourth hall for meditation. 

Monasteries are of various sizes and the number of monks is 
not constant, for the peripatetic habit of early Buddhism is not 
extinct: at one time many inmates may be absent on their 

point of view of Indian geography, there can be no doubt that we have to do with 
an Indian idea, imported into Tibet as well as into China where it became far more 
popular than it had ever been in India. The two additional Arhats (who vary in 
different temples, whereas the sixteen are fixed) appear to have been added during 
the T ang dynasty and, according to Watters, in imitation of a very select order of 
merit instituted by the Emperor T ai Tsung and comprising eighteen persons. 
Chavannes and Levi see in them spirits borrowed from the popular pantheon. 

Chinese ideas about the Lohans at the present day are very vague. Their Indian 
origin has been forgotten and some of them have been provided with Chinese 
biographies. (See Dore, p. 216.) One popular story says that they were eighteen 
converted brigands. 

In several large temples there are halls containing 500 images of Arhats, which 
include many Chinese Emperors and one of them is often pointed out as being 
Marco Polo. But this is very doubtful. See, however, Hackmann, Buddhismus, 
p. 212. 

1 Generally they consist of !akya muni and two superhuman Buddhas or 
Bodhisattvas, such as O-mi-to (Amitabha) and Yo-shih-fo (Vaidurya): Pi-lu-fo 
(Vairocana) and Lo-shih-fo (Lochana): Wen-shu(Manjus-ri)and P u-hsien(Samanta- 
bhadra). The common European explanation that they are the Buddhas of the 
past, present and future is not correct. 

2 xCj7ffi^^ anc ^ ^tfi^C* ^ r ^ e i m P r ^ ance f Ti-tsang in popular Bud 
dhism, which has perhaps been underestimated, see Johnston, chap. vni. 


travels, at another there may be an influx of strangers. There 
are also wandering monks who have ceased to belong to a 
particular monastery and spend their time in travelling. A large 
monastery usually contains from thirty to fifty monks, but a 
very large one may have as many as three hundred. The majority 
are dedicated by their parents as children, but some embrace 
the career from conviction in their maturity and these, if few, 
are the more interesting. Children who are brought up to be 
monks receive a religious education in the monastery, wear 
monastic clothes and have their heads shaved. At the age of 
about seventeen they are formally admitted as members of 
the order and undergo three ceremonies of ordination, which in 
their origin represented stages of the religious life, but are now 
performed by accumulation in the course of a few days. One 
reason for this is that only monasteries possessing a licence from 
the Government 1 are allowed to hold ordinations and that 
consequently postulants have to go some distance to be received 
as full brethren and are anxious to complete the reception 
expeditiously. At the first ordination the candidates are 
accepted as novices: at the second, which follows a day or two 
afterwards and corresponds to the upasampada, they accept 
the robes and bowl and promise obedience to the rules of the 
Pratimoksha. But these ceremonies are of no importance 
compared with the third, called Shou Pu-sa-chieh 2 or acceptance 
of the Bodhisattva precepts, that is to say the fifty-eight 
precepts enunciated in the Fan-wang-ching. The essential part 
of this ordination is the burning of the candidate s head in from 
three to eighteen places. The operation involves considerable 
pain and is performed by lighting pieces of charcoal set in a 
paste which is spread over the shaven skull. 

Although the Fan-wang-ching does not mention this 
burning of the head as part of ordination, yet it emphatically 
enjoins the practice of burning the body or limbs, affirming that 
those who neglect it are not true Bodhisattvas 3 . The prescrip 
tion is founded on the twenty-second chapter of the Lotus 4 
which, though a later addition, is found in the Chinese transla- 

1 I speak of the Old Imperial Government which came to an end in 1911. 

2 Jibuti/Si- 3 De Groot Lc P- 5L 
4 See Kern s translation, especially pp. 379 and 385. 


tion made between 265 and 316 A.D. 1 I-Ching discusses and 
reprobates such practices. Clearly they were known in India 
when he visited it, but not esteemed by the better Buddhists, 
and the fact that they form no part of the ordinary Tibetan 
ritual indicates that they had no place in the decadent Indian 
Buddhism which in various stages of degeneration was intro 
duced into Tibet 2 . In Korea and Japan branding is practised 
but on the breast and arms rather than on the head. 

It would appear then that burning and branding as part of 
initiation were known in India in the early centuries of our era 
but not commonly approved and that their general acceptance 
in China was subsequent to the death of I-Ching in A.D. 713 3 . 
This author clearly approved of nothing but the double ordina 
tion as novice and full monk. The third ordination as Bodhi- 
sattva must be part of the later phase inaugurated by Amogha 
about 750 4 . 

This practice is defended as a trial of endurance, but the 
earlier and better monks were right in rejecting it, for in itself 
it is an unedifying spectacle and it points to the logical con 
clusion that, if it is meritorious to cauterize the head, it is still 
more meritorious to burn the whole body. Cases of suicide by 
burning appear to have occurred in recent years, especially in 
the province of Che-Kiang 5 . The true doctrine of the Mahay ana 
is that every one should strive for the happiness and salvation 
of all beings, but this beautiful truth may be sadly perverted 

1 See Nanjio, Nos. 138 and 139. The practice is not entirely unknown in the 
legends of Pali Buddhism. In the Lokapannatti, a work existing in Burma but 
perhaps translated from the Sanskrit, Asoka burns himself in honour of the Buddha, 
but is miraculously preserved. See B.E.F.E.O. 1904, pp. 421 and 427. 

2 See I-Tsing, Records of the Buddhist Religion, trans. Takakusu, pp. 195 ff., 
and for Tibet, Waddell, Buddhism of Tibet, p. 178, note 3, from which it appears 
that it is only in Eastern Tibet and probably under Chinese influence that branding 
is in vogue. For apparent instances in Central Asian art, see Grunwedel, Budd. 
Kultst. p. 23, note 1. 

3 Branding is common in many Hindu sects, especially the Madhvas, but is 
reprobated by others. 

4 It is condemned as part of the superstition of Buddhism in a memorial of 
Han Yii, 819 A.D. 

6 See those cited by De Groot, I.e. p. 228, and the article of MacGowan (Chinese 
Recorder, 1888) there referred to. See also Hackmann, Buddhism as a Religion, 
p. 228. Chinese sentiment often approves suicide, for instance, if committed by 
widows or the adherents of defeated princes. For a Confucian instance, see Johnston, 
p 341 


if it is held that the endurance of pain is in itself meritorious 
and that such acquired merit can be transferred to others. Self- 
torture, seems not to be unknown in the popular forms of 
Chinese Buddhism 1 . 

The postulant, after receiving these three ordinations, 
becomes a full monk or Ho-shang 2 and takes a new name. The 
inmates of every monastery owe obedience to the abbot and 
some abbots have an official position, being recognized by the 
Government as representing the clergy of a prefecture, should 
there be any business to be transacted with the secular authori 
ties. But there is no real hierarchy outside the monasteries, 
each of which is an isolated administrative unit. Within each 
monastery due provision is made for discipline and administra 
tion. The monks are divided into two classes, the Western who 
are concerned with ritual and other purely religious duties and 
the Eastern who are relatively secular and superintend the 
business of the establishment 3 . This is often considerable for 
the income is usually derived from estates, in managing which 
the monks are assisted by a committee of laymen. Other laymen 
of humbler status 4 live around the monastery and furnish the 
labour necessary for agriculture, forestry and whatever in 
dustries the character of the property calls into being. As a rule 
there is a considerable library. Even a sympathetic stranger will 
often find that the monks deny its existence, because many 
books have been destroyed in political troubles, but most 
monasteries possess copies of the principal scriptures and a 
complete Tripitaka, usually the edition of 1737, is not rare. 
Whether the books are much read I do not know, but I have 
observed that after the existence of the library has been ad- 

1 See e.g. Du Bose, The, Dragon, Image and Demon, p. 265. I have never seen 
such practices myself. See also Paraphrase of the Sacred Edict, vii. 8. 

2 5|*H r^ This word w ^ich has no derivation in Chinese, is thought to be a 
corruption of some vernacular form of the -Sanskrit Upadhyaya current in Central 
Asia. See I-tsing, transl. Takakusu, p. 118. Upadhyaya became Vajjha (as is shown 
by the modern Indian forms Ojha or Jha and Tamil Vaddyar). See Bloch in Indo- 
Qermanischen Forschungen, vol. xxv. 1909, p. 239. Vajjha might become in Chinese 
Ho-sho or Ho-shang for Ho sometimes represents the Indian syllable va. See 
Julien, Methode, p. 109, and Eitel, Handbook of Chinese Buddhism, p. 195. 

8 For details see Hackmann in T oung Poo, 1908. 

4 They apparently correspond to the monastic lay servants or "pure men" 
described by I-Ching, chap, xxxii, as living as Nalanda. 


mitted, it often proves difficult to find the key. There is also 
a printing press, where are prepared notices and prayers, as 
well as copies of popular sutras. 

The food of the monks is strictly vegetarian, but they do not 
go round with the begging bowl nor, except in a few monasteries, 
is it forbidden to eat after midday. As a rule there are three 
meals, the last about 6 p.m., and all must be eaten in silence. 
The three garments prescribed by Indian Buddhism are still 
worn, but beneath them are trousers, stockings, and shoes 
which are necessary in the Chinese climate. There is no idea 
that it is wrong to sleep on a bed, to receive presents or own 

Two or three services are performed daily in the principal 
temple, early in the morning, about 4 p.m., and sometimes in 
the middle of the day. A specimen of this ritual may be seen 
in the service called by Beal the Liturgy of Kuan Yin 1 . It 
consists of versicles, responses and canticles, and, though 
strangely reminiscent both in structure and externals (such as 
the wearing of vestments) of the offices of the Roman Church 2 , 
appears to be Indian in origin. I-Ching describes the choral 
services which he attended in Nalanda and elsewhere the 
chanting, bowing, processions and the Chinese ritual is, I 
think, only the amplification of these ceremonies. It includes 
the presentation of offerings, such as tea, rice and other vege 
tables. The Chinese pilgrims testify that in India flowers, lights 
and incense were offered to relics and images (as in Christian 
churches), and the Bodhicaryavatara 3 , one of the most spiritual 
of later Mahayanist works, mentions offerings of food and drink 
as part of worship. Many things in Buddhism lent themselves 
to such a transformation or parody of earlier teaching. Offerings 
of food to hungry ghosts were countenanced, and it was easy 
to include among the recipients other spirits. It was meritorious 
to present food, raiment and property to living saints : oriental, 

1 A Catena of Buddhist Scriptures from the Chinese, pp. 339 ff. 

2 The abbot and several upper priests wear robes, which are generally red and 
gold, during the service. The abbot also carries a sort of sceptre. The vestments of 
the clergy are said to be derived from the robes of honour which used to be given 
to them when they appeared at Court. 

3 ii. 16. Cf. the rituals in De la Vallee Poussin s Bouddhisme et MaMriaux, 
pp. 214 ff. Taranatha frequently mentions burnt offerings as part of worship in 
medieval Magadha. 

E. HI. 22 


and especially Chinese, symbolism found it natural to express 
the same devotion by offerings made before images. 

In the course of most ceremonies, the monks make vows on 
behalf of all beings and take oath to work for their salvation. 
They are also expected to deliver and hear sermons and to 
engage in meditation. Some of them superintend the education 
of novices which consists chiefly in learning to read and repeat 
religious works. Quite recently elementary schools for the 
instruction of the laity have been instituted in some monas 
teries 1 . 

The regularity of convent life is broken by many festivals. 
The year is divided into two periods of wandering, two of 
meditation and one of repose corresponding to the old Vassa. 
Though this division has become somewhat theoretical, it is 
usual for monks to set out on excursions in the spring and 
autumn. In each month there are six fasts, including the two 
uposatha days. On these latter the 250 rules of the Pratimoksha 
are recited in a refectory or side hall and subsequently the 
fifty-eight rules of the Fan-wang-ching are recited with greater 
ceremony in the main temple. 

Another class of holy days includes the birthdays 2 not only 
of Sakya-muni, but of other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the 
anniversaries of events in Sakya-muni s life and the deaths of 
Bodhidharma and other Saints, among whom the founder or 
patron of each monastery has a prominent place. Another 
important and popular festival is called Yii-lan-pen or All Souls 
day, which is an adaptation of Buddhist usages to Chinese 
ancestral worship. Of many other festivals it may be said that 
they are purely Chinese but countenanced by Buddhism: such 
are the days which mark the changes of the seasons, those 
sacred to Kuan-ti and other native deities, and (before the 
revolution) imperial birthdays. 

The daily services are primarily for the monks, but the laity 
may attend them, if they please. More frequently they pay their 
devotions at other hours, light a few tapers and too often have 
recourse to some form of divination before the images. Some- 

1 I do not refer to the practice of turning disused temples into schools which is 
frequent. In some monasteries the monks, while retaining possession, have them 
selves opened schools. 

a It is not clear to me what is really meant by the birthdays of beings like 
Maitreya and Amitabha. 


times they defray the cost of more elaborate ceremonies to 
expiate sins or ensure prosperity. But the lay attendance in 
temples is specially large at seasons of pilgrimage. For an account 
of this interesting side of Chinese religious life I cannot do 
better than refer the reader to Mr Johnston s volume already 

Though the services of the priesthood may be invoked at 
every crisis of life, they are most in requisition for funeral 
ceremonies. A detailed description of these as practised at 
Amoy has been given by De Groot 1 which is probably true in 
essentials for all parts of China. These rites unite in incongruous 
confusion several orders of ideas. Pre -Buddhist Chinese notions 
of the life after death seem not to have included the idea of hell. 
The disembodied soul is honoured and comforted but without 
any clear definition of its status. Some representative a person, 
figure, or tablet is thought capable of giving it a temporary 
residence and at funeral ceremonies offerings are made to such 
a representative and plays performed before it. Though Buddhist 
language may be introduced into this ritual, its spirit is alien to 
even the most corrupt Buddhism. 

Buddhism familiarized China with the idea that the average 
man stands in danger of purgatory and this doctrine cannot be 
described as late or Mahayanist 2 . Those epithets are, however, 
merited by the subsidiary doctrine that such punishment can 
be abridged by vicarious acts of worship which may take the 
form of simple prayer addressed to benevolent beings who can 
release the tortured soul. More often the idea underlying it is 
that the recitation of certain formulae acquires merit for the 
reciter who can then divert this merit to any purpose 3 . This is 
really a theological refinement of the ancient and widespread 
notion that words have magic force. Equally ancient and un- 
Buddhist in origin is the theory of sympathetic magic. Just as 
by sticking pins into a wax figure you may kill the person 
represented, so by imitating physical operations of rescue, you 
may deliver a soul from the furnaces and morasses of hell. Thus 

1 Actes du Sixieme Congres des Orientalistes, Leide, 1883, sec. TV. pp. 1-120. 

8 E.g. in Dipavamsa, xm; Mahav. xiv. Mahinda is represented as converting 
Ceylon by accounts of the terrors of the next world. 

3 The merit of good deeds can be similarly utilized. The surviving relatives 
feed the poor or buy and maintain for the rest of its life an animal destined to 
slaughter. The merit then goes to the deceased. 


a paper model of hades is made which is knocked to pieces and 
finally burnt: the spirit is escorted with music and other pre 
cautions over a mock bridge, and, most singular of all, the 
priests place over a receptacle of water a special machine 
consisting of a cylinder containing a revolving apparatus which 
might help a creature immersed in the fluid to climb up. This 
strange mummery is supposed to release those souls who are 
condemned to sojourn in a pool of blood 1 . This, too, is a super 
stition countenanced only by Chinese Buddhism, for the 
punishment is incurred not so much by sinners as by those dying 
of illnesses which defile with blood. Many other rites are based 
on the notion that objects or their paper images ceremonially 
burnt are transmitted to the other world for the use of the dead. 
Thus representations in paper of servants, clothes, furniture, 
money and all manner of things are burned together with the 
effigy of the deceased and sometimes also certificates and pass 
ports giving him a clean bill of health for the Kingdom of Heaven. 
As in funeral rites, so in matters of daily life, Buddhism 
gives its countenance and help to popular superstition, to every 
kind of charm for reading the future, securing happiness and 
driving away evil spirits. In its praise may be said that this 
patronage, though far too easy going, is not extended to cruel 
or immoral customs. But the reader will ask, is there no brighter 
side ? I believe that there is, but it is not conspicuous and, as 
in India, public worship and temple ritual display the lower 
aspects of religion. But in China a devout Buddhist is generally 
a good man and the objects of Buddhist associations are praise 
worthy and philanthropic. They often include vegetarianism 
and abstinence from alcohol and drugs. The weakness of the 
religion to-day is no doubt the want of intelligence and energy 
among the clergy. There are not a few learned and devout monks, 
but even devotion is not a characteristic of the majority. On 
the other hand, those of the laity who take their religion seriously 
generally attain a high standard of piety and there have been 

1 It may possibly be traceable to Manichseism which taught that souls are trans 
ferred from one sphere to another by a sort of cosmic water wheel. See Cumont s 
article, "La roue a puiser les ames du Manicheisme" in Rev. de mist, des Religions, 
1915, p. 384. Chavannes and Pelliot have shown that traces of Manichaeism lingered 
long in Fu-Kien. The metaphor of the endless chain of buckets is also found in the 
Yuan Jen Lun. 


attempts to reform Buddhism, to connect it with education and 
to spread a knowledge of the more authentic scriptures 1 . 

When one begins to study Buddhism in China, one fears it 
may be typified by the neglected temples on the outskirts of 
Peking, sullen and mouldering memorials of dynasties that have 
passed away. But later one learns not only that there are great 
and flourishing monasteries in the south, but that even in Peking 
one may often step through an archway into courtyards of which 
the prosaic streets outside give no hint and find there refreshment 
for the eye and soul, flower gardens and well-kept shrines 
tended by pious and learned guardians. 

1 See Francke, "Ein Buddhistischer Reform versuch in China," T oung Poo, 
1909, pp. 567-602. 


THE Buddhism of Korea cannot be sharply distinguished from 
the Buddhism of China and Japan. Its secluded mountain 
monasteries have some local colour, and contain halls dedicated 
to the seven stars and the mountain gods of the land. And 
travellers are impressed by the columns of rock projecting from 
the soil and carved into images (miriok), by the painted walls 
of the temples and by the huge rolled-up pictures which are 
painted and displayed on festival days. But there is little real 
originality in art : in literature and doctrine none at all. Buddh 
ism started in Korea with the same advantages as in China and 
Japan but it lost in moral influence because the monks con 
tinually engaged in politics and it did not win temporal power 
because they were continually on the wrong side. Yet Korea 
is not without importance in the annals of far-eastern Buddhism 
for, during the wanderings and vicissitudes of the faith, it served 
as a rest-house and depot. It was from Korea that Buddhism 
first entered Japan : when, during the wars of the five dynasties 
the T ien-t ai school was nearly annihilated in China, it was 
revived by a Korean priest and the earliest extant edition of the 
Chinese Tripitaka is known only by a single copy preserved in 
Korea and taken thence to Japan. 

For our purposes Korean history may be divided into four 
periods : 

I. The three States (B.C. 57-A.D. 668). 
II. The Kingdom of Silla (668-918). 

III. The Kingdom of Korye (918-1392). 

IV. The Kingdom of Chosen (1392-1910). 

The three states were Koguryu in the north, Pakche in the 
south-west and Silla in the south-east 2 . Buddhism, together 

1 See various articles in the Trans, of the Korean Branch of the R.A.S., and F. Starr, 
Korean Buddhism. Also M. Courant, Bibliographie coreenne, especially vol. in. 
chap. 2. 

2 The orthography of these three names varies considerably. The Japanese 
equivalents are Koma, Kudara and Shiragi. There are also slight variations in the 
dates given for the introduction of Buddhism into various states. It seems probable 
that Marananda and Mukocha, the first missionaries to Pakche and Silla were 


with Chinese writing, entered Koguryu from the north in 372 
and Pakchc from the south a few years later. Silla being more 
distant and at war with the other states did not receive it till 
about 424. In 552 both Japan and Pakche were at war with 
Silla and the king of Pakche, wishing to make an alliance with 
the Emperor of Japan sent him presents which included Buddhist 
books and images. Thus Korea was the intermediary for intro 
ducing Buddhism, writing, and Chinese culture into Japan, and 
Korean monks played an important part there both in art and 
religion. But the influence of Korea must not be exaggerated. 
The Japanese submitted to it believing that they were acquiring 
the culture of China and as soon as circumstances permitted 
they went straight to the fountain head. The principal early 
sects were all imported direct from China. 

The kingdom of Silla, which became predominant in the 
seventh century, had adopted Buddhism in 528, and maintained 
friendly intercourse with the T ang dynasty. As in Japan 
Chinese civilization was imitated wholesale. This tendency 
strengthened Buddhism at the time, but its formidable rival 
Confucianism was also introduced early in the eighth century, 
although it did not become predominant until the thirteenth 1 . 

In the seventh century the capital of Silla was a centre of 
Buddhist culture and also of trade. Merchants from India, 
Tibet and Persia are said to have frequented its markets and 
several Korean pilgrims visited India. 

In 918 the Wang dynasty, originating in a northern family 
of humble extraction, overthrew the kingdom of Silla and with 
it the old Korean aristocracy. This was replaced by an official 
nobility modelled on that of China: the Chinese system of 
examinations was adopted and a class of scholars grew up. But 
with this attempt to reconstruct society many abuses appeared. 
The number of slaves greatly increased 2 , and there were many 

Hindus or natives of Central Asia who came from China and some of the early 
art of Silla is distinctly Indian in style. See Starr, I.e. plates vm and ix. 

1 These dates are interesting, as reflecting the changes of thought in China. 
In the sixth century Chinese influence meant Buddhism. It is not until the latter 
part of the Southern Sung, when the philosophy of Chu-hsi had received official 
approval, that Chinese influence meant Confucianism. 

2 The reasons were many, but the upper classes were evidently ready to oppress 
the lower. Poor men became the slaves of the rich to obtain a livelihood. All 
children of slave women were declared hereditary slaves and so were the families 
of criminals. 


hereditary low castes, the members of which were little better 
than slaves. Only the higher castes could compete in examina 
tions or hold office and there were continual struggles and 
quarrels between the military and civil classes. Buddhism 
flourished much as it flourished in the Hei-an period of Japan, 
but its comparative sterility reflected the inferior social con 
ditions of Korea. Festivals were celebrated by the Court with 
great splendour: magnificent monasteries were founded: the 
bonzes kept troops and entered the capital armed : the tutor of 
the heir apparent and the chancellor of the kingdom were often 
ecclesiastics, and a law is said to have been enacted to the 
effect that if a man had three sons one of them must become a 
monk. But about 1250 the influence of the Sung Confucianists 
began to be felt. The bonzes were held responsible for the evils 
of the time, for the continual feuds, exactions and massacres, 
and the civil nobility tended to become Confucianist and to side 
against the church and the military. The inevitable outburst was 
delayed but also rendered more disastrous when it came by the 
action of the Mongols who, as in China, were patrons of Buddh 
ism. The Yuan dynasty invaded Korea, placed regents in the 
principal towns and forced the Korean princes to marry Mongol 
wives. It was from Korea that Khubilai despatched his ex 
peditions against Japan, and in revenge the Japanese harried 
the Korean coast throughout the fourteenth century. But so 
long as the Yuan dynasty lasted the Korean Court which had 
become Mongol remained faithful to it and to Buddhism ; when 
it was ousted by the Ming, a similar movement soon followed 
in Korea. The Mongolized dynasty of Korye was deposed and 
another, which professed to trace its lineage back to Silla, 
mounted the throne and gave the country the name of Chosen. 
This revolution was mainly the work of the Confucianist 
party in the nobility and it was not unnatural that patriots and 
reformers should see in Buddhism nothing but the religion of 
the corrupt old regime of the Mongols. During the next century 
and a half a series of restrictive measures, sometimes amounting 
to persecution, were applied to it. Two kings who dared to 
build monasteries and favour bonzes were deposed. Statues 
were melted down, Buddhist learning was forbidden : marriages 
and burials were performed according to the rules of Chu-hsi. 
About the beginning of the sixteenth century (the date is 


variously given as 1472 and 1512 and perhaps there was more 
than one edict) the monasteries in the capital and all cities were 
closed and this is why Korean monasteries are all in the country 
and often in almost inaccessible mountains. It is only since the 
Japanese occupation that temples have been built in towns. 

At first the results of the revolution were beneficial. The 
great families were compelled to discharge their body-guards 
whose collisions had been a frequent cause of bloodshed. The 
public finances and military forces were put into order. Printing 
with moveable type and a phonetic alphabet were brought into 
use and vernacular literature began to flourish. But in time 
the Confucian literati formed a sort of corporation and became 
as troublesome as the bonzes had been. The aristocracy split 
into two hostile camps and Korean politics became again a 
confused struggle between families and districts in which pro 
gress and even public order became impossible. For a moment, 
however, there was a national cause. This was when Hideyoshi 
invaded Korea in 1592 as part of his attack on China. The 
people rose against the Japanese troops and, thanks to the 
death of Hideyoshi rather than to their own valour, got rid of 
them. It is said that in this struggle the bonzes took part as 
soldiers fighting under their abbots and that the treaty of peace 
was negotiated by a Korean and a Japanese monk 1 . 

Nevertheless it does not appear that Buddhism enjoyed 
much consideration in the next three centuries. The Hermit 
Kingdom, as it has been called, became completely isolated and 
stagnant nor was there any literary or intellectual life except the 
mechanical study of the Chinese classics. Since the annexation 
by Japan (1910) conditions have changed and Buddhism is 
encouraged. Much good work has been done in collecting and 
reprinting old books, preserving monuments and copying in 
scriptions. The monasteries were formerly under the control of 
thirty head establishments or sees, with somewhat conflicting 
interests. But about 1912 these thirty sees formed a union 
under a president who resides in Seoul and holds office for a year. 
A theological seminary also has been founded and a Buddhist 
magazine is published. 

1 These statements are taken from Maurice Courant s Epitome of Korean History 
in Madrolle s Guide to North China, p. 428. I have not been successful in verifying 
them in Chinese or Japanese texts. See, however, Starr, Korean Buddhism, pp. 29-30. 



THE modern territory called Annam includes the ancient 
Champa, and it falls within the French political sphere which 
includes Camboja. Of Champa I have treated elsewhere in 
connection with Camboja, but Annam cannot be regarded as 
the heir of this ancient culture. It represents a southward 
extension of Chinese influence, though it is possible that 
Buddhism may have entered it in the early centuries of our 
era either by sea or from Burma. 

At the present day that part of the French possessions 
which occupies the eastern coast of Asia is divided into Tonkin, 
Annam and Cochin China. The Annamites are predominant in 
all three provinces and the language and religion of all are the 
same, except that Cochin China has felt the influence of Europe 
more strongly than the others. But before the sixteenth century 
the name Annam meant rather Tonkin and the northern portion 
of modern Annam, the southern portion being the now vanished 
kingdom of Champa. 

Until the tenth century A.D. 1 Annam in this sense was a 
part of the Chinese Empire, although it was occasionally success 
ful in asserting its temporary independence. In the troubled 
period which followed the downfall of the T ang dynasty this 
independence became more permanent. An Annamite prince 
founded a kingdom called Dai-co-viet 2 and after a turbulent 
interval there arose the Li dynasty which reigned for more than 
two centuries (1009-1226 A.D.). It was under this dynasty that 
the country was first styled An-nam: previously the official 
designation of the land or its inhabitants was Giao-Chi 3 . The 

1 The dates given are 111 B.C.-939 A.D. 

2 French scholars use a great number of accents and even new forms of letters 
to transcribe Annamite, but since this language has nothing to do with the history 
of Buddhism or Hinduism and the accurate orthography is very difficult to read, 
I have contented myself with a rough transcription. 

3 This is the common orthography, but Chiao Chih would be the spelling according 
to the system of transliterating Chinese adopted in this book. 


Annamites were at this period a considerable military power, 
though their internal administration appears to have been 
chaotic. They were occasionally at war with China, but as a 
rule were ready to send complimentary embassies to the Em 
peror. With Champa, which was still a formidable antagonist, 
there was a continual struggle. Under the Tran dynasty (1225- 
1400) the foreign policy of Annam followed much the same 
lines. A serious crisis was created by the expedition of Khubilai 
Khan in 1285, but though the Annamites suffered severely at 
the beginning of the invasion, they did not lose their inde 
pendence and their recognition of Chinese suzerainty remained 
nominal. In the south the Chams continued hostilities and, after 
the loss of some territory, invoked the aid of China with the 
result that the Chinese occupied Annam. They held it, however, 
only for five years (1414-1418). 

In 1428 the Li dynasty came to the throne and ruled Annam 
at least in name until the end of the eighteenth century. At 
first they proved vigorous and capable; they organized the 
kingdom in provinces and crushed the power of Champa. 
But after the fifteenth century the kings became merely titular 
sovereigns and Annamite history is occupied entirely with the 
rivalry of the two great families, Trinh and Nguyen, who 
founded practically independent kingdoms in Tonkin and 
Cochin-China respectively. In 1802 a member of the Nguyen 
family made himself Emperor of all Annam but both he and his 
successors were careful to profess themselves vassals of China. 

Thus it will be seen that Annam was at no time really 
detached from China. In spite of political independence it 
always looked towards the Chinese Court and though compli 
mentary missions and nominal vassalage seem unimportant, 
yet they are significant as indicating admiration for Chinese 
institutions. Between Champa and Annam on the other hand 
there was perpetual war: in the later phases of the contest the 
Annamites appear as invaders and destroyers. They seem to 
have disliked the Chams and were not disposed to imitate them. 
Hence it is natural that Champa, so long as it existed as an 
independent kingdom, should mark the limit of direct Indian 
influence on the mainland of Eastern Asia, though afterwards 
Camboja became the limit. By direct, I do not mean to exclude 
the possibility of transmission through Java or elsewhere, but 


by whatever route Indian civilization came to Champa, it 
brought its own art, alphabet and language, such institutions as 
caste and forms of Hinduism and Buddhism which had borrowed 
practically nothing from non-Indian sources. In Annam, on 
the other hand, Chinese writing and, for literary purposes, a 
form of the Chinese language were in use : the arts, customs and 
institutions were mainly Chinese: whatever Buddhism can be 
found was imported from China and is imperfectly distinguished 
from Taoism : of Hinduism there are hardly any traces 1 . 

The Buddhism of Annam is often described as corrupt and 
decadent. Certainly it would be vain to claim for it that its 
doctrine and worship are even moderately pure or primitive, 
but it cannot be said to be moribund. The temples are better 
kept and more numerously attended than in China and there 
are also some considerable monasteries. As in China very few 
except the monks are exclusive Buddhists and even the monks 
have no notion that the doctrines of Lao-tzu and Confucius 
are different from Buddhism. The religion of the ordinary layman 
is a selection made according to taste from a mass of beliefs 
and observances traceable to several distinct sources, though no 
Annamite is conscious that there is anything incongruous in 
this heterogeneous combination. This fusion of religions, which 
is more complete even than in China, is illustrated by the temples 
of Annam which are of various kinds 2 . First we have the Chua 
or Buddhist temples, always served by bonzes or nuns. They 
consist of several buildings of which the principal contains an 
altar bearing a series of images arranged on five or six steps, 
which rise like the tiers of a theatre. In the front row there is 
usually an image of the infant Sakyamuni and near him stand 
figures of At-nan (Ananda) and Muc-Lien (Maudgalyayana). 
On the next stage are Taoist deities (the Jade Emperor, the 
Polar Star, and the Southern Star) and on the higher stages are 
images representing (a) three Buddhas 3 with attendants, 

1 It is said that the story of the Ramayana is found in Annamite legends 
(B.E.F.E.O. 1905, p. 77), and in one or two places the Annamites reverence statues 
of Indian deities. 

2 The most trustworthy account of Annamite religion is perhaps Dumoutier, 
Les Cultes Annamites, Hanoi, 1907. It was published after the author s death and 
consists of a series of notes rather than a general description. See also Diguet, 
Les Annamites, 1906, especially chap. vi. 

3 Maitreya is called Ri-lac = Chinese Mi-le. The equivalence of the syllables 
ri and mi seems strange, but certain. Cf. A-ri-da = Amida or 0-mi-to. 

XL vni J AN NAM 343 

(6) the Buddhist Triratna and (c) the three religions, Buddhism, 
Confucianism and Taoism. But the arrangement of the images 
is subject to much variation and the laity hardly know who are 
the personages represented. At side altars there are generally 
statues of Quan-Am, guardian deities, eminent bonzes and other 
worthies. Representations of hell are also common. Part of 
the temple is generally set apart for women who frequent it in 
the hope of obtaining children by praying to Quan-Am and 
other goddesses. Buddhist literature is sometimes printed in 
these Chua and such works as the Amitayurdhyanasutra and 
collections of Dharanis are commonly placed on the altars. 

Quan-Am (Kuan-Yin) is a popular deity and the name seems 
to be given to several goddesses. They would probably be 
described as incarnations of Avalokita, if any Annamite were 
to define his beliefs (which is not usual), but they are really 
legendary heroines who have left a reputation for superhuman 
virtue. One was a daughter of the Emperor Chuang of the 
Chou dynasty. Another (Quan-Am-Thi-Kinh), represented as 
sitting on a rock and carrying a child in her arms, was a much 
persecuted lady who passed part of her life disguised as a bonze. 
A third form, Quan-Am-Toa-Son, she who dwells on the moun 
tains, has an altar in nearly every temple and is specially 
worshipped by women who wish for sons. At Hanoi there is a 
small temple, rising on one column out of the water near the 
shore of a lake, like a lotus in a tank, and containing a brass 
image of Quan-Am with eight arms, which is evidently of Indian 
origin. Sometimes popular heroines such as Cao Tien, a princess 
who was drowned, are worshipped without (it would seem) being 
identified with Quan-Am. 

But besides the Chua there are at least three other kinds of 
religious edifices: (i) Dinh. These are municipal temples dedi 
cated to beings commonly called genii by Europeans, that is to 
say, superhuman personages, often, but not always, departed 
local worthies, who for one reason or another are supposed to 
protect and supervise a particular town or village. The Dinh 
contains a council room as well as a shrine and is served by 
laymen. The genius is often represented by an empty chair and 
his name must not be pronounced within the temple, (ii) Taoist 
deities are sometimes worshipped in special temples, but the 
Annamites do not seem to think that such worship is antagonistic 


to Buddhism or even distinct from it. (iii) Temples dedicated 
to Confucius (Van mien) are to be found in the towns, but are 
generally open only on certain feast days, when they are visited 
by officials. Sometimes altars dedicated to the sage may be 
found in natural grottoes or other picturesque situations. 
Besides these numerous elements, Annamite religion also in 
cludes the veneration of ancestors and ceremonies such as the 
worship of Heaven and Earth performed in imitation of the 
Court of Peking. To this must be added many local superstitions 
in which the worship of animals, especially the tiger, is prominent. 
But a further analysis of this composite religion does not fall 
within my province. 

There is little to be said about the history of Buddhism in 
Annam, but native tradition places its introduction as late as 
the tenth century 1 . Buddhist temples usually contain a statue 
of Phat To 2 who is reported to have been the first adherent of 
the faith and to have built the first pagoda. He was the tutor 
of the Emperor Li-Thai-To who came to the throne in 1009. 
Phat-To may therefore have been active in the middle of the 
tenth century and this agrees with the statement that the 
Emperor Dinh Tien-Hoang De (968-979) was a fervent Buddhist 
who built temples and did his best to make converts 3 . One 
Emperor, Li Hue-Ton, abdicated and retired to a monastery. 

The Annals of Annam 4 record a discussion which took place 
before the Emperor Thai-Ton (1433-1442) between a Buddhist 
and a sorcerer. Both held singularly mixed beliefs but re 
cognized the Buddha as a deity. The king said that he could 
not decide between the two sects, but gave precedence to the 

1 Pelliot (Meou-Tseu, traduit et annote, in T oung Poo, vol. xix. p. 1920) gives 
reasons for thinking that Buddhism was prevalent in Tonkin in the early centuries 
of our era, but, if so, it appears to have decayed and been reintroduced. Also at 
this time Chiao-Chih may have meant Kuang-tung. 

2 Diguet, Lcs Annamites, p. 303. 

3 Maybon et Russier, UHistoire (T Annam, p. 45. 

4 Dumoutier, Lcs Cultes Annamites, p. 58. 



THE religion of Tibet and Mongolia, often called Lamaism, is 
probably the most singular form of Buddhism in existence and 
has long attracted attention in Europe on account of its con 
nection with politics and its curious resemblance to the Roman 
Church in ritual as well as in statecraft. The pontiffs and curia 
of Lhasa emulated the authority of the medieval papacy, so 
that the Mings and Manchus in China as well as the British in 
India had to recognize them as a considerable power. 

Tibet had early relations with Kashmir, Central Asia and 
China which may all have contributed something to its peculiar 
civilization, but its religion is in the main tantric Buddhism 
imported from Bengal and invigorated from time to time by 
both native and Indian reformers. But though almost every 
feature of Lamaism finds a parallel somewhere in India, yet too 
great insistence on its source and historical development hardly 
does justice to the originality of the Tibetans. They borrowed 
a foreign faith wholesale, but still the relative emphasis which 
they laid on its different aspects was something new. They had 
only a moderate aptitude for asceticism, meditation and meta 
physics, although they manfully translated huge tomes of 
Sanskrit philosophy, but they had a genius for hierarchy, 
discipline and ecclesiastical polity unknown to the Hindus. 
Thus taking the common Asiatic idea that great and holy men 
are somehow divine, they made it the principle of civil and 
sacerdotal government by declaring the prelates of the church 
to be deities incarnate. Yet in strange contrast to these practical 
talents, a certain innate devilry made them exaggerate all the 
magical, terrifying and demoniac elements to be found in Indian 

The extraordinary figures of raging fiends which fill Tibetan 
shrines suggest at first that the artists simply borrowed and 
made more horrible the least civilized fancies of Indian sculpture, 


yet the majesty of Tibetan architecture (for, judging by the 
photographs of Lhasa and Tashilhumpo, it deserves no less a 
name) gives another impression. The simplicity of its lines and 
the solid, spacious walls unadorned by carving recall Egypt 
rather than India and harmonize not with the many-limbed 
demons but with the calm and dignified features of the deified 
priests who are also portrayed in these halls. 

An atmosphere of mystery and sorcery has long hung about 
the mountainous regions which lie to the north of India. Hindus 
and Chinese alike saw in them the home of spirits and wizards, 
and the grand but uncanny scenery of these high plateaux has 
influenced the art and ideas of the natives. The climate made it 
natural that priests should congregate in roomy strongholds, 
able to defy the cold and contain the stores necessary for a long 
winter, and the massive walls seem to imitate the outline of 
the rocks out of which they grow. But the strange shapes 
assumed by mists and clouds, often dyed many colours by the 
rising or setting sun, suggest to the least imaginative mind an 
aerial world peopled by monstrous and magical figures. At 
other times, when there is no fog, distant objects seem in the 
still, clear atmosphere to be very near, until the discovery that 
they are really far away produces a strange feeling that they 
are unreal and unattainable. 

In discussing this interesting faith, I shall first treat of its 
history and then of the sacred books on which it professes to 
be based. In the light of this information it will be easier to 
understand the doctrines of Lamaism and I shall finally say 
something about its different sects, particularly as there is 
reason to think that the strength of the Established Church, of 
which the Grand Lama is head, has been exaggerated. 

TIBET (continued) 


IT is generally stated that Buddhism was first preached in Tibet 
at the instance of King Srong-tsan-gam-po 1 who came to the 
throne in 629 A. D. Some legendary notices of its earlier appear 
ance 2 will bear the natural interpretation that the Tibetans 
(like the Chinese) had heard something about it from either 
India or Khotan before they invited instructors to visit them 3 . 
At this time Tibet played some part in the politics of China 

1 Tibetan orthography Sron-btsan-sgam-po. It is hard to decide what is the 
best method of representing Tibetan words in Latin letters: 

(a) The orthography differs from the modern pronunciation more than in any 
other language, except perhaps English, but it apparently represents an older 
pronunciation and therefore has historical value. Also, a word can be found in a 
Tibetan dictionary only if the native spelling is faithfully reproduced. On the 
other hand readers interested in oriental matters know many words in a 
spelling which is a rough representation of the modern pronunciation. It seems 
pedantic to write bKah-ljgyur and hBras-spuns when the best known authorities 
speak of Kanjur and Debung. On the whole, I have decided to represent the 
commoner words by the popular orthography as given by Rockhill, Waddell and 
others while giving the Tibetan spelling in a foot-note. But when a word cannot 
be said to be well known even among Orientalists I have reproduced the Tibetan 

(6) But it is not easy to reproduce this spelling clearly and consistently. On 
the whole I have followed the system used by Sarat Chandra Das in his Dictionary. 
It is open to some objections, as, for instance, that the sign h has more than one 
value, but the more accurate method used by Griinwedel in his Mythologie is 
extremely hard to read. My transcription is as follows in the order of the Tibetan 

k, kh, g, n, c, ch, j, ny. 

t, th, d, n, p, ph, b, m. 

ts, ths, ds, w. 

zh, z, h, y. 

r, 1, s, s, h. 

Although tsh is in some respects preferable to represent an aspirated ts, yet it 
is liable to be pronounced as in the English words hat shop, and perhaps ths is on 
the whole better. 

2 See Waddell, Buddhism of Tibet, p. 19. 

3 It has been argued (e.g., J.R.A.8., 1903, p. 11) that discoveries in Central Asia 
indicate that Tibetan civilization and therefore Tibetan Buddhism are older than 
is generally supposed. But recent research shows that Central Asian MSS. of even 
the eighth century say little about Buddhism, whatever testimony they may bear 
to civilization. 



and northern India. The Emperor Harsha and the T ang 
Emperor T ai Tsung exchanged embassies but a second embassy 
sent from China arrived after Harsha s death and a usurper who 
had seized the throne refused to receive it. The Chinese with the 
assistance of the kings of Tibet and Nepal dethroned him and 
carried him off captive. There is therefore nothing improbable 
in the story that Srong-tsan-gam-po had two wives, who were 
princesses of Nepal and China respectively. He was an active 
ruler, warlike but progressive, and was persuaded by these two 
ladies that Buddhism was a necessary part of civilization. 
According to tradition he sent to India a messenger called 
Thonmi Sanbhota, who studied there for several years, adapted 
a form of Indian writing to the use of his native language and 
translated the Karanda Vyuha. Recent investigators however 
have advanced the theory that the Tibetan letters are derived 
from the alphabet of Indian origin used in Khotan and that 
Sanbhota made its acquaintance in Kashmir 1 . Though the king 
and his two wives are now regarded as the first patrons of 
Lamaism and worshipped as incarnations of Avalokita and 
Tara, it does not appear that his direct religious activity was 
great or that he built monasteries. But his reign established the 
foundations of civilization without which Buddhism could 
hardly have flourished, he to some extent unified Central Tibet, 
he chose the site of Lhasa as the capital and introduced the rudi 
ments of literature and art. But after his death in 650 we hear 
little more of Buddhism for some decades. 

About 705 King Khri-gtsug-lde-btsan is said to have built 
monasteries, caused translations to be made, and summoned 
monks from Khotan. His efforts bore little fruit, for no Tibetans 
were willing to take the vows, but the edict of 783 preserved in 
Lhasa mentions his zeal for religion, and he prepared the way 
for Khri-sron-lde-btsan in whose reign Padma-Sambhava, the 
real founder of Lamaism, arrived in Tibet 2 . 

1 See HoernleMS. Remains found in E . Turkestan, 1916, pp. xviiff., and Francke, 
Epig. 2nd. xi. 266 ff., and on the other side Laufer in J.A.O.S. 1918, pp. 34 ff. 
There is a considerable difference between the printed and cursive forms of the 
Tibetan alphabet. Is it possible that they have different origins and that the 
former came from Bengal, the latter from Khotan? 

2 There were some other streams of Buddhism, for the king had a teacher 
called Santarakshita who advised him to send for Padma-Sambhava and Padma- 
Sambhava was opposed by Chinese bonzes. 


This event is said to have occurred in 747 and the epoch is 
noticeable for two reasons. Firstly Tibet, which had become an 
important military power, was now brought into contact both 
in peace and war with China and Central Asia. It was pre 
dominant in the Tarim Basin and ruled over parts of Ssu-chuan 
and Yunnan. China was obliged to pay tribute and when it was 
subsequently refused the Tibetans sacked the capital, Chang-an. 
In 783 China made a treaty of peace with Tibet. The king was 
the son of a Chinese princess and thus blood as well as wide 
experience disposed him to open Tibet to foreign ideas. But in 
747 relations with China were bad, so he turned towards India 
and invited to his Court a celebrated Pandit named !antarak- 
shita, who advised him to send for Padma-Sambhava. 

Secondly this was the epoch when Amogha flourished in 
China and introduced the Mantrayana system or Chen Yen. 
This was the same form of corrupt Buddhism which was brought 
to Tibet and was obviously the dominant sect in India in the 
eighth century. It was pliant and amalgamated easily with local 
observances, in China with funeral rites, in Tibet with de- 

At this time Padma-Sambhava was one of the most cele 
brated exponents of Tan trie Buddhism, and in Tibet is often 
called simply the Teacher (Guru or Mahacarya). His portraits 
represent him as a man of strongly marked and rather angry 
features, totally unlike a conventional monk. A popular account 
of his life 1 is still widely read and may contain some grains of 
history, though the narrative as a whole is fantastic. It 
describes him as born miraculously in Udyana but as having 
studied at Bodhgaya and travelled in many regions with the 
intention of converting all the world. According to his plan, 
the conversion of his native land was to be his last labour, and 
when he had finished his work in Tibet he vanished thither 
miraculously. Thus Udyana is not represented as the source and 
home of Tantric Buddhism but as being like Tibet a land of 

1 The Pad-ma-than-yig. It indicates some acquaintance with Islam and mentions 
HuluguKhan. See T oungPao, 1896, pp. 526 ff. See for a further account Griinwedel, 
Mythologie, p. 47, Waddell, Buddhism, p. 380, and the Tibetan text edited and 
translated by Laufer under the title Der Roman einer tibetischen Konigin, especially 
pp. 250 ff. Also E. Schlagintweit, " Die Lobensbeschreibung von Padma-Sambhava," 
Abhand. k. bayer. Akad. i. CL. xxi. Bd. ii. Abth. 419^44, and ib. i. CL. xxii. Bd. iii. 
Abth. 519-576. 


magic and mystery but, like Tibet, needing conversion : both are 
disposed to welcome Tantric ideas but those ideas are elaborated 
by Padma-Sambhava not in Udyana but in Bengal which 
from other sources we know to have been a centre of 

Some other points of interest in these legends may be 
noticed. Padma-Sambhava is not celibate but is accompanied 
by female companions. He visits many countries which worship 
various deities and for each he has a new teaching suited to its 
needs. Thus in Tibet, where the older religion consisted of de 
fensive warfare against the attacks of evil spirits 1 , he assumes 
the congenial character of a victorious exorcist, and in his 
triumphant progress subdues local demons as methodically as 
if he were suppressing the guerilla warfare of native tribes. He 
has new revelations called Terma which he hides in caves to be 
discovered by his successors. These revelations are said to have 
been in an unknown language 2 . Those at present existing are in 
Tibetan but differ from the canonical scriptures in certain 
orthographical peculiarities. The legend thus admits that 
Padma-Sambhava preached a non-celibate and magical form of 
Buddhism, ready to amalgamate with local superstitions and 
needing new revelations for its justification. 

He built the monastery of Samye 3 about thirty miles from 
Lhasa on the model of Odantapuri in Bengal. Santarakshita 
became abbot and from this period dates the foundation of the 
order of Lamas 4 . Mara (Thse Ma-ra) was worshipped as well as 
the Buddhas, but however corrupt the cultus may have been, 
Samye was a literary centre where many translations were 
made. Among the best known translators was a monk from 
Kashmir named Vairocana 5 . It would appear however that 

1 Much of Chinese popular religion has the same character. See De Groot, 
Religious System of China, vol. vi. pp. 929, 1187. "The War against Spectres." 

8 Both he and the much later Saskya Pandita are said to have understood the 
Bru-zha language, for which see T oung Poo, 1908, pp. 1-47. 

3 Or bSam-yaa. See Waddell, Buddhism, p. 266, for an account of this monastery 
at the present day. 

4 The Tibetan word bLama means upper and is properly applicable to the higher 
clergy only though commonly used of all. 

6 He was temporarily banished owing to the intrigues of the Queen, who acted 
the part of Potiphar s wife, but he was triumphantly restored. A monk called 
Vairocana is also said to have introduced Buddhism into Khotan from Kashmir, 
but at a date which though uncertain must be considerably earlier than this. 


there was considerable opposition to the new school not only 
from the priests of the old native religion but from Chinese 
Buddhists 1 . 

Numerous Tibetan documents discovered in the Tarim basin 2 
date from this period. The absence in them of Buddhist personal 
names and the rarity of direct references to Buddhism indicate 
that though known in Tibet it was not yet predominant. 
Buddhist priests (ban-de) are occasionally mentioned but the 
title Lama has not been found. The usages of the Bonpo religion 
seem familiar to the writers and there are allusions to religious 

When Padma-Sambhava vanished from Tibet, the legend 
says that he left behind him twenty-five disciples, all of them 
magicians, who propagated his teaching. At any rate it flourished 
in the reign of Ralpachan (the grandson of Khri-sron-lde-btsan). 
Monasteries multiplied and received land and the right to collect 
tithes. To each monk was assigned a small revenue derived from 
five tenants and the hierarchy was reorganized 8 . Many trans 
lators were at work in this period and a considerable part of 
the present canon was then rendered into Tibetan. The king s 
devotion to Buddhism was however unpopular and he was 
murdered 4 apparently at the instigation of his brother and 
successor Lang-dar-ma 5 , who endeavoured to extirpate Lama- 
ism. Monasteries were destroyed, books burnt, Indian monks 
were driven out of the country and many Lamas were compelled 
to become hunters or butchers. But the persecution only lasted 
three years 6 , for the wicked king was assassinated by a Lama 
who has since been canonized by the Church and the incident 
of his murder or punishment is still acted in the mystery plays 
performed at Himis and other monasteries. 

After the death of Lang-dar-ma Tibet ceased to exist as a 

1 See Journal of Buddhist Text Society, 1893, p. 5. I imagine that by Hosliang 
Mahayana the followers of Bodhidharma are meant. 

2 J.R.A.S. 1914, pp. 37-59. 

8 See Rockhill, Life of the Buddha, p. 225. 

4 Various dates are given for his death, ranging from 838 to 902. See Rockhill 
(Life of the Buddha), p. 225, and Bushell in J.R.A.S. 1880, pp. 440 ff. But the 
treaty of 822 was made in his reign. 

5 g Lan-dar-ma. 

6 But see for other accounts Rockhill (Life of the Buddha), p. 226. According to 
Csoma de Koros s tables the date of the persecution was 899. 


united kingdom and was divided among clans and chieftains. 
This was doubtless connected with the collapse of Tibetan 
power in the Tarim basin, but whether as effect or cause it is 
hard to say. The persecution may have had a political motive : 
Lang-dar-ma may have thought that the rise of monastic 
corporations, and their right to own land and levy taxes were 
a menace to unity and military efficiency. But the political 
confusion which followed on his death was not due to the 
triumphant restoration of Lamaism. Its recovery was slow. The 
interval during which Buddhism almost disappeared is estimated 
by native authorities as from 73 to 108 years, and its subsequent 
revival is treated as a separate period called phyi-dar or later 
diffusion in contrast to the sna-dar or earlier diffusion. The 
silence of ecclesiastical history during the tenth century con 
firms the gravity of the catastrophe 1 . On the other hand the 
numerous translations made in the ninth century were not lost 
and this indicates that there were monasteries to preserve them, 
for instance Samye. 

At the beginning of the eleventh century we hear of foreign 
monks arriving from various countries. The chronicles 2 say that 
the chief workers in the new diffusion were La-chen, Lo-chen, 
the royal Lama Yeses Hod and Atisa. The first appears to have 
been a Tibetan but the pupil of a teacher who had studied in 
Nepal. Lo-chen was a Kashmiri and several other Kashmiri 
Lamas are mentioned as working in Tibet. Yeses Hod was a 
king or chieftain of mNa-ris in western Tibet who is said to 
have been disgusted with the debased Tantrism which passed 
as Buddhism. He therefore sent young Lamas to study in India 
and also invited thence learned monks. The eminent Dharma- 
pala, a monk of Magadha who was on a pilgrimage in Nepal, 
became his tutor. Yeses Hod came to an unfortunate end. He 
was taken captive by the Raja of Garlog, an enemy of Buddhism, 
and died in prison. It is possible that this Raja was the ruler 
of Garhwal and a Mohammedan. The political history of the 
period is far from clear, but evidently there were numerous 
Buddhist schools in Bengal, Kashmir and Nepal and numerous 
learned monks ready to take up their residence in Tibet. This 

1 See the chronological table in Waddell s Buddhism, p. 576. Not a single 
Tibetan event is mentioned between 899 and 1002. 

2 Pag Som Jon Zang. Ed. Sarat Chandra Das, p. 183. 


readiness has been explained as due to fear of the rising tide of 
Islam, but was more probably the result of the revival of 
Buddhism in Bengal during the eleventh century. The most 
illustrious of these pandits was Atisa 1 (980-1053), a native of 
Bengal, who was ordained at Odontapuri and studied in Burma 2 . 
Subsequently he was appointed head of the monastery of 
Vikramasila and was induced to visit Tibet in 1038 3 . He 
remained there until his death fifteen years later; introduced a 
new calendar and inaugurated the second period of Tibetan 
Buddhism which is marked by the rise of successive sects 
described as reforms. It may seem a jest to call the teaching of 
Atisa a reform, for he professed the Kalacakra, the latest and 
most corrupt form of Indian Buddhism, but it was doubtless 
superior in discipline and coherency to the native superstitions 
mixed with debased tantrism, which it replaced. 

As in Japan during the eleventh and twelfth centuries many 
monasteries were founded and grew in importance, and what 
might have happened in Japan but for the somewhat unscrupulous 
prescience of Japanese statesmen actually did happen in Tibet. 
Among the numerous contending chiefs none was pre-eminent : 
the people were pugnacious but superstitious. They were ready 
to build and respect when built the substantial structures 
required to house monastic communities during the rigorous 
winter. Hence the monasteries became the largest and safest 
buildings in the land, possessing the double strength of walls 
and inviolability. The most important was the Sakya monastery. 
Its abbots were of royal blood and not celibate, and this dynasty 
of ecclesiastical statesmen practically ruled Tibet at a critical 
period in the history of eastern Asia and indeed of the world, 
namely, the conquests of Chinggiz 4 and the rise of the Mongol 

1 Or Dipahkara Srijfiana. See for a life of him Journal of Buddhist Text Society, 
1893, "Indian Pandits in Tibet," pp. 7 ff. 

2 Suvarnadvipa, where he studied, must be Thaton and it is curious to find that 
it was a centre of tantric learning. 

3 From 1026 onwards see the chronological tables of Sum-pa translated by 
Sarat Chandra Das in J.A.S.B. 1889, pp. 40-82. They contain many details, 
especially of ecclesiastical biography. The Tibetan system of computing time is 
based on cycles of sixty years beginning it would seem not in 1026 but 1027, so 
that in many dates there is an error of a year. See Pelliot, J.A. 1913, I. 633, and 
Laufer, T oung Poo, 1913, 569. 

4 Or Jenghiz Khan. The form in the text seems to be the more correct. 


There is no evidence that Chinggiz was specially favourable 
to Buddhism. His principle was one King and one God 1 and 
like other princes of his race he thought of religions not as 
incompatible systems but as different methods of worship of no 
more importance than the different languages used in prayer. 
The destruction wrought by the Mongol conquerors has often 
been noticed, but they had also an ample, unifying temper which 
deserves recognition. China, Russia and Persia all achieved a 
unity after the Mongol conquest which they did not possess 
before, and though this unification may be described as a protest 
and reaction, yet but for the Mongols and their treatment of 
large areas as units it would not have been possible. The Mings 
could not have united China before the Yuan dynasty as they 
did after it. 

In spite of some statements to the contrary there is no proof 
that the early Mongols invaded or conquered central Tibet, but 
Khubilai subdued the eastern provinces and through the 
Lamaist hierarchy established a special connection between 
Tibet and his dynasty. This connection began even in the time 
of his predecessor, for the head Lama of the Sakya monastery 
commonly known as Sakya Pandita (or Sa-skya-pan-cen) was 
summoned to the Mongol Court in 1246-8, and cured the 
Emperor of an illness 2 . This Lama was a man of great learning 
and influence. He had received a double education both secular 
and religious, and was acquainted with foreign languages. The 
favourable impression which he created no doubt facilitated the 
brilliant achievements of his nephew and successor, who is 
commonly known as Bashpa or Pagspa 3 . 

Khubilai Khan was not content with the vague theism of 
Central Asia and wished to give his rude Mongols a definite 
religion with some accessories of literature and manners. 
Confucianism was clearly too scholastic for a fighting race and 
we may surmise that he rejected Christianity as distant and 

1 Tegri or Heaven, This monotheism common to the ancient Chinese, Turks 
and Mongols did not of course exclude the worship of spirits. 

2 Guyuk was Khagan at this time but the Mongol History of Sanang Setsen 
(Schmidt, p. 3) says that the Lama was summoned by the Khagan Godan. It seems 
that Godan was never Khagan, but as an influential prince he may have sent the 

3 hPhagspa (corrupted in Mongol to Bashpa) is merely a title equivalent to 
Ayra in Sanskrit. His full style was hPhagspa bLo-gros-rgyal-mthsan. 


unimportant, Mohammedanism as inconveniently mixed with 
politics. But why did he prefer Lamaism to Chinese Buddhism? 
The latter can hardly have been too austerely pure to suit his 
ends, and Tibetan was as strange as Chinese to the Mongols. 
But the Mongol Court had already been favourably impressed 
by Tibetan Lamas and the Emperor probably had a just feeling 
that the intellectual calibre of the Mongols and Tibetans was 
similar and also that it was politic to conciliate the uncanny 
spiritual potentates who ruled in a land which it was difficult 
to invade. At any rate he summoned the abbot of Sakya to 
China in 1261 and was initiated by him into the mysteries of 
Lamaism 1 . 

It is said that before Pagspa s birth the God Ganesa showed 
his father all the land of Tibet and told him that it would be 
the kingdom of his son. In later life when he had difficulties at 
the Chinese Court Mahakala appeared and helped him, and the 
mystery which he imparted to Khubilai is called the Hevajrava- 
sita*. These legends indicate that there was a large proportion 
of Sivaism in the religion first taught to the Mongols, larger 
perhaps than in the present Lamaism of Lhasa. 

The Mongol historian Sanang Setsen relates 3 that Pagspa 
took a higher seat than the Emperor when instructing him and 
on other occasions sat on the same level. This sounds improbable, 
but it is clear that he enjoyed great power and dignity. In China 
he received the title of Kuo-Shih or instructor of the nation and 
was made the head of all Buddhists, Lamaists and other. In 
Tibet he was recognized as head of the Church and tributary 
sovereign, though it would appear that the Emperor named a 
lay council to assist him in the government and also had a com 
missioner in each of the three provinces. This was a good political 
bargain and laid the foundations of Chinese influence in a 
country which he could hardly have subdued by force. 

Pagspa was charged by the Emperor to provide the Mongols 
with an alphabet as well as a religion. For this purpose he used 

1 By abhi^ekha or sprinkling with water. 

2 Vas"ita is a magical formula which compels the obedience of spirits or natural 
forces. Hevajra (apparently the same as Heruka) is one of the fantastic beings 
conceived as manifestations of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas made for a special pur 
pose, closely corresponding, as Griinwedel points out, to the manifestations of Siva. 

8 Schmidt s edition, p. 115. 


a square form of the Tibetan letters 1 , written not in horizontal 
but in vertical lines. But the experiment was not successful. 
The characters were neither easy to write nor graceful, and after 
Pagspa s death his invention fell into disuse and was replaced 
by an enlarged and modified form of the Uigur alphabet. This 
had already been employed for writing Mongol by Sakya 
Pandita and its definitive form for that purpose was elaborated 
by the Lama Chos-kyi-hod-zer in the reign of Khubilai s 
successor. This alphabet is of Aramaic origin, and had already 
been utilized by Buddhists for writing religious works, so its 
application to Mongol was merely an extension of its general 
currency in Asia 2 . 

Pagspa also superintended the preparation of a new edition 
of the Tripitaka, not in Mongol but in Chinese. Among the 
learned editors were persons acquainted with Sanskrit, Chinese, 
Tibetan and Uigur. An interesting but natural feature of this 
edition is that it notes whether the various Chinese texts are 
found in the Tibetan Canon or not. 

Khubilai further instituted a bureau of fine arts, the head of 
which was a Lama called Aniko, skilled in both sculpture and 
painting. He and his Chinese pupil Liu Yuan introduced into 
Peking various branches of Tibetan art such as Buddhist images 
of a special type, ornamental ironwork and gold tapestry. The 
Chinese at this period appear to have regarded Tibetan art as 
a direct importation from India 3 . And no doubt Tibetan art 
was founded on that of Nepal which in its turn came from 
Bengal. Miniature painting is a characteristic of both. But in 
later times the individuality of Tibet, shown alike in its 
monstrous deities and its life-like portraits of Lamas, imposed 
itself on Nepal. Indian and Tibetan temples are not alike. In 
the former there is little painting but the walls and pillars are 
covered with a superabundance of figures carved in relief: in 
Tibet pictures and painted banners are the first thing to strike 
the eye, but carvings in relief are rare. 

It is hard to say to what extent the Mongols beyond such 

1 It is given in Isaac Taylor s The Alphabet, vol. n. p. 336. See also J.R.A.S. 
1910, pp. 1208-1214. 

2 E.g. see the Tisastvustik, a sutra in a Turkish dialect and Uigur characters 
found at Turf an and published in Bibliotheca Buddhica, xn. 

3 See Kokka, No. 311, 1916, Tibetan Art in China. 


parts of northern China as felt the direct influence of the 
imperial court were converted to Lamaism. At any rate their 
conversion was only temporary for, as will be related below, 
a reconversion was necessary in the sixteenth century. It looks 
as if the first growth of Mongolian Buddhism was part of a 
political system and collapsed together with it. But so long as 
the Yuan dynasty reigned, Lamaist influence was strong and 
the downfall of the Yuan was partly caused by their subservience 
to the clergy and extravagant expenditure on religious buildings 
and ceremonies. After the departure of Pagspa, other Lamas 
held a high position at the Court of Peking such as Chos-kyi- 
hod-zer and gYuri-ston rDo-rje-dpal. The latter was a dis 
tinguished exponent of the Kalacakra system and the teacher 
of the historian Bu-ston who is said to have arranged the 
Tibetan Canon. 

Although the Yuan dynasty heaped favours upon priests and 
monasteries, it does not appear that religion flourished in Tibet 
during the fourteenth century for at the end of that period the 
grave abuses prevalent provoked the reforming zeal of Tsong- 
kha-pa. From 1270 to 1340 the abbots of Sakya were rulers of 
both Church and State, and we hear that in 1320 they burned 
the rival monastery of Dikung. The language of Sanang Setsen 
implies that each abbot was appointed or invested by the 
Emperor 1 and their power declined with the Yuan dynasty. 
Other monasteries increased in importance and a chief known 
as Phagmodu 2 succeeded, after many years of fighting, in 
founding a lay dynasty which ruled parts of Tibet until the 
seventeenth century. 

In 1368 the Ming superseded the Yiian. They were not 
professed Buddhists to the same extent and they had no pre 
ference for Lamaism but they were anxious to maintain good 
relations with Tibet and to treat it as a friendly but vassal state. 
They accorded imperial recognition (with an implication of 
suzerainty) to the dynasty of Phagmodu and also to the abbots 
of eight monasteries. Though they were doubtless glad to see 
Tibet a divided and contentious house, it does not appear that 
they interfered actively in its affairs or did more than recognize 

1 Sanang Setsen, p. 121. The succession of the Sakya abbots is not clear but the 
primacy continued in the family. See Ko ppen, n. p. 105. 

2 Strictly speaking a place-name. 


the status quo. In the time of Khubilai the primacy of Sakya 
was a reality: seventy years later Sakya was only one among 
several great monasteries. 

The advent of the Ming dynasty coincided with the birth of 
Tsong-kha-pa 1 , the last reformer of Lamaism and organizer of 
the Church as it at present exists. The name means the man of 
the onion-bank, a valley near the monastery of Kumbum in the 
district of Amdo, which lies on the western frontiers of the 
Chinese province of Kansu. He became a monk at the age of 
seven and from the hair cut off when he received the tonsure is 
said to have sprung the celebrated tree of Kumbum which bears 
on its leaves wondrous markings 2 . According to the legend, his 
birth and infancy were attended by miracles. He absorbed 
instruction from many teachers and it has been conjectured that 
among them were Roman Catholic missionaries 3 . In early man 
hood he proceeded to Tibet and studied at Sakya, Dikung and 
finally at Lhasa. His reading convinced him that Lamaism as 
he found it was not in harmony with the scriptures, so with the 
patronage of the secular rulers and the support of the more 
earnest clergy he successfully executed a thorough and per 
manent work of reform. This took visible shape in the Gelugpa, 
the sect presided over by the Grand Lama, which acquired such 
paramount importance in both ecclesiastical and secular matters 
that it is justly termed the Established Church of Tibet. It may 
also be conveniently termed the Yellow Church, yellow being 
its special colour particularly for hats and girdles, in opposition 
to the red or unreformed sects which use red for the same 
purpose. Tsong-kha-pa s reforms took two principal lines. 
Firstly he made monastic discipline stricter, insisting on celibacy 
and frequent services of prayer: secondly he greatly reduced, 
although he did not annihilate, the tantric and magical element 

1 The Tibetan orthography is bTson (or Tson)-kha-pa. He was called rJe-rin- 
po-che bLo-bzah-grags-pa in Tibetan and Arya-maharatna Sumatikirti in Sanskrit. 
The Tibetan orthography of the monastery is sKu-hbum or hundred thousand 
pictures. See, for accounts of his life, Sarat Chandra Das in J.A.S.B. 1882, pp. 
63-57 and 127. Huth, Buddhismus in der Mongolei, n. pp. 175 ff. 

2 There is some difference of statement as to whether these markings are images 
of Tsong-kha-pa or Tibetan characters. Hue, though no Buddhist, thought them 
miraculous. See his Travels in Tartary, vol. n. chap. u. See also Rockhill, Land of 
the Lamas, p. 67, and Filchner, Das Kloster Kumbum, chap. vi. 

8 But the tradition mentioned by Hue that he was instructed by a long-nosed 
stranger from the west, has not been found in any Tibetan biography. 


in Lamaism. These principles were perpetuated by an effective 
organization. He himself founded the great monastery of 
Gandan near Lhasa and became its first abbot. During his life 
time or shortly afterwards were founded three others, Sera and 
Depung both near Lhasa and Tashilhunpo 1 . He himself seems 
to have ruled simply in virtue of his personal authority as 
founder, but his nephew and successor Geden-dub 2 claimed the 
same right as an incarnation of the divine head of the Church, 
and this claim was supported by a hierarchy which became 
overwhelmingly powerful. 

Tsong-kha-pa died in 1417 and is said to have been trans 
figured and carried up into heaven while predicting to a great 
crowd the future glories of his church. His mortal remains, 
however, preserved in a magnificent mausoleum within the 
Gandan monastery, still receive great veneration. 

Among his more eminent disciples were Byams-chen-chos-rje 
and mKhas-grub-rje who in Tibetan art are often represented 
as accompanying him. The first played a considerable part in 
China. The Emperor Yung-Lo sent an embassy to invite Tsong- 
kha-pa to his capital. Tsong-kha-pa felt unable to go himself 
but sent his pupil to represent him. Byams-chen-chos-rje was 
received with great honour 3 . The main object of the Ming 
Emperors was to obtain political influence in Tibet through 
the Lamas but in return the Lamas gained considerable prestige. 
The Kanjur was printed in China (1410) and Byams-chen- 
chos-rje and his disciples were recognized as prelates of the 
whole Buddhist Church within the Empire. He returned to 
Tibet laden with presents and titles and founded the monastery 
of Serra in 1417. Afterwards he went back to China and died 
there at the age of eighty-four. 

1 Tibetan orthography writes dGah-ldan, Se-ra, hBras-spuns and bKra-Sis- 
Lhun-po. dGah-ldan, the happy, is a translation of the Sanskrit Tushita or Paradise. 
Tsong-kha-pa s reformed sect was originally called dGah-lugs-pa or those who 
follow the way of dGah-ldan. But this possibly suggested those who pursue pleasure 
and the name was changed to dGe-lugs-pa or those of the virtuous order. 

2 dGe- dun grub. 

3 He was not the same as Ha-li-ma (see p. 277) of whom more is heard in 
Chinese accounts. Ha-li-ma or Karma was fifth head of the Karma-pa school and 
was invited on his own merits to China where he died in 1426 or 1414. See Huth, 
I.e. vol. i. p. 109 and vol. n. p. 171. Also Koppen, die Eel. dcs Buddha, n. 107. 
Byams-chen-chos-rje was invited as the representative of Tsong-ka-pa. See Huth, 
I.e. vol. i. p. 120, vol. n. p. 129. 


mKhas-grub-rje founded the monastery of Tashilhunpo and 
became its abbot, being accepted as an incarnation of the Buddha 
Amitabha. He was eighth in the series of incarnations, which 
henceforth were localized at Tashilhunpo, but the first is said 
to have been Subhuti, a disciple of Gotama, and the second 
Mafijusrikirti, king of the country of Sambhala 1 . 

The abbot of Tashilhunpo became the second personage in 
the ecclesiastical and political hierarchy. The head of it was the 
prelate commonly known as the Grand Lama and resident at 
Lhasa. Geden-dub 2 , the nephew of Tsong-kha-pa, is reckoned 
by common consent as the first Grand Lama (though he seems 
not to have borne the title) and the first incarnation of Avalokita 
as head of the Tibetan Church 3 . The Emperor Ch eng Hua 
(1365-1488) who had occasion to fight on the borders of Tibet 
confirmed the position of these two sees as superior to the eight 
previously recognized and gave the occupants a patent and seal. 
From this time they bore the title of rGyal-po or king. 

It was about this time that the theory of successive incarna 
tions 4 which is characteristic of Lamaism was developed and 
defined. At least two ideas are combined in it. The first is that 
divine persons appear in human form. This is common in Asia 
from India to Japan, especially among the peoples who have 
accepted some form of Hindu religion. The second is that in a 
school, sect or church there is real continuity of life. In the 
unreformed sects of Tibet this was accomplished by the simple 
principle of heredity so that celibacy, though undeniably 
correct, seemed to snap the thread. But it was reunited by the 
theory that a great teacher is reborn in the successive occupants 
of his chair. Thus the historian Taranatha is supposed to be 
reborn in the hierarchs of Urga. But frequently the hereditary 
soul is identified with a Buddha or Bodhisattva, as in the great 

1 See for a list of the Lamas of Tashilhunpo and their lives J.A.S.B. 1882, pp. 
15-52. The third incarnation was Abhayakara Gupta, a celebrated Bengali Pandit 
who flourished in the reign of Ramapala. This appears to have been about 1075- 
1115, but there is considerable discrepancy in the dates given. 

2 See for his life J.A.S.B. 1882, p. 24. 

3 Tsong-kha-pa is not reckoned in this series of incarnations, for firstly he was 
regarded as an incarnation of Manjuilri and secondly Geden-dub was born before 
his death and hence could not represent the spirit which dwelt in him. 

4 Tibetan sPrul-pa, Mongol Khubilghan. Both are translations of the Sanskrit 
Nirmana and the root idea is not incarnation but transformation in an illusive 


incarnations of Lhasa and Tashilhunpo. This dogma has obvious 
advantages. It imparts to a Lamaist see a dignity which the 
papacy cannot rival but it is to the advantage of the Curia 
rather than of the Pope for the incarnate deity of necessity 
succeeds to his high office as an infant, is in the hands of regents 
and not unfrequently dies when about twenty years of age. 
These incarnations are not confined to the great sees of Tibet. 
The heads of most large monasteries in Mongolia claim to be 
living Buddhas and even in Peking there are said to be six. 

The second Grand Lama 1 enjoyed a long reign, and set the 
hierarchy in good order, for he distinguished strictly clerical 
posts, filled by incarnations, from administrative posts. He was 
summoned to Peking by the Emperor, but declined to go and 
the somewhat imperative embassy sent to invite him was 
roughly handled. His successor, the third Grand Lama bSod- 
nams 2 , although less noticed by historians than the fifth, perhaps 
did more solid work for the holy see of Lhasa than any other 
of his line for he obtained, or at least received, the allegiance of 
the Mongols who since the time of Khubilai had woefully back 
slidden from the true faith. 

As mentioned above, the conversion of the Mongols to 
Buddhism took place when their capital was at Peking and 
chiefly affected those resident in China. But when the Yuan 
dynasty had been dethroned and the Mongols, driven back into 
their wilds, were frequently at war with China, they soon 
relapsed into their original superstitions. About 1570 Altan 3 

1 The following list of Grand Lamas is taken from Griinwedel s Mythologie, 
p. 206. Their names are followed by the title rGya-mThso and in many cases the 
first part of the name is a title. 

1. dGe-hdun-dub, 1391-1478. 7. bLo-bzan sKal-dan, 1705-1758. 

2. dGe-hdun, 1479-1541. 8. bLo-bzan hjam-dpal, 1759-1805. 

3. bSod-nams, 1543-1586. 9. bLo-bzan Lun-rtogs, 1806-1815. 

4. Yon-tan, 1587-1614. 10. bLo-bzan Thsul-khrims, 1817-1837. 

5. Nag-dban bLo-bzan, 1617-1680. 11. bLo-bzan dGe-dmu, 1838-1855. 

6. Rin-chen Thsahs-dbyahs, 1693-1703. 12. bLo-bzan Phrin-las, 1856-1874. 

13. Nag-dban bLo-bzan Thub-ldam, 1875. 

8 See for an account of his doings Sanang Setsen, chap. ix. Huth, Oeschichte, 
n. pp. 20Q ft- Koppen, n. pp. 134 ff. It would appear that about 1545 north 
western Tibet was devastated by Mohammedans from Kashgar. See Waddell, 
Buddhism, p. 583. 

8 Also known as Yenta or Anda. See, for some particulars about him, Parker 
in N. China Branch of R.A.S. 1913, pp. 92 ff. 


Khagan, the powerful chief of the Turned, became more nearly 
acquainted with Tibet, since some Lamas captured in a border 
fray had been taken to his Court. After causing China much loss 
and trouble he made an advantageous peace and probably 
formed the idea (which the Manchus subsequently proved to be 
reasonable) that if the Mongols were stronger they might repeat 
the conquests of Khubilai. The Ming dynasty was clearly 
decadent and these mysterious priests of Tibet appeared to be 
on the upward grade 1 . They might help him both to become the 
undisputed chief of all the Mongol tribes and also to reconquer 
Peking. So he sent an embassy to invite the Grand Lama s 
presence, and when it was not successful he followed it with a 

The Grand Lama then accepted and set out on his travels 
with great pomp. According to the story he appeared to the 
astonished Mongols in the guise of Avalokita with four arms (of 
which two remained folded on his breast) and the imprint of 
his horse s hoofs showed the six mystic syllables om mani padme 
hum. These wonders are so easily explicable that they may be 

A great congregation was held near Lake Kokonor and 
Sanang Setsen records an interesting speech made there by one 
of his ancestors respecting the relations of Church and State, 
which he compared with the sun and moon. The Lama bestowed 
on the Khagan high sounding titles and received himself the 
epithet Dalai or Talai, the Mongol word for sea, signifying 
metaphorically vast extent and profundity 2 . This is the origin 
of the name Dalai Lama by which the Tibetan pontiff is com 
monly known to Europeans. The hierarchy was divided into 
four classes parallel to the four ranks of Mongol nobles : the use 
of meat was restricted and the custom of killing men and horses 
at funerals forbidden. The observance of Buddhist festivals was 
made compulsory and native idols were destroyed, but the 

1 Naturally the narrative is not told without miraculous embellishment, in 
cluding the singular story that Altan who suffered from the gout used to put his 
feet every month into the ripped up body of a man or horse and bathe them in the 
warm blood. Avalokita appeared to him when engaged in this inhuman cure and 
bade him desist and atone for his sins. 

2 In Tibetan rGya-mThso. Compare the Chinese expression hai liang (sea 
measure) meaning capacious or broad minded. The Khagan received the title of 
IHai thsans-pa chen-po equivalent to Divyamahabrahma. 


deities which they represented were probably identified with 
others in the new pantheon. The Grand Lama specially recom 
mended to the Mongols the worship of the Blue Mahakala, a 
six armed representation of Siva standing on a figure of Ganesa, 
and he left with them a priest who was esteemed an incarnation 
of Mafijusri, and for whom a temple and monastery were built 
in Kuku-khoto. 

His Holiness then returned to Tibet, but when Altan Khagan 
died in 1583 he made a second tour in Mongolia in order to make 
sure of the allegiance of the new chiefs. He also received an 
embassy from the Chinese Emperor Wan-Li, who conferred on 
him the same titles that Khubilai had given to Pagspa. The 
alliance between the Tibetans and Mongols was naturally dis 
quieting to the Ming dynasty and they sought to minimize it by 
showing extreme civility to the Lamas. 

This Grand Lama died at the age of forty-seven, and it is 
significant that the next incarnation appeared in the Mongol 
royal house, being a great-grandson of Altan Khagan. Until he 
was fourteen he lived in Mongolia and when he moved to Lhasa 
a Lama was appointed to be his vicar and Primate of all 
Mongolia with residence at Kuren or Urga 1 . The prelates of this 
line are considered as incarnations of the historian Taranatha 2 . 
In common language they bear the name of rJe-btsun-dam-pa 
but are also called Maidari Khutuktu, that is incarnation of 
Maitreya. About this time the Emperor of China issued a 
decree, which has since been respected, that these hierarchs 
must be reborn in Tibet, or in other words that they must not 
reappear in a Mongol family for fear of uniting religion and 
patriotism too closely. 

Lozang 3 , the fifth Grand Lama, is by common consent the 
most remarkable of the pontifical line. He established the right 
of himself and his successors or, as he might have said, of 
himself in his successive births to the temporal and ecclesiastical 
sovereignty of Tibet: he built the Potala and his dealings with 

1 The correct Mongol names of this place seem to be Orgo and Kiira. The Lama s 
name was bSam-pa rGya-mThsa 

2 He finished his history in 1608 and lived some time longer so that bSam-pa 
rGya-mThso cannot have been an incarnation of him. 

8 This is an accepted abbreviation of his full name Nag-dban bLo-zan rGya- 
mThso. Nag-dban is an epithet meaning eloquent. 

E. in. 24 


the Mongols and the Emperor of China are of importance for 
general Asiatic history. 

From the seventeenth century onwards there were four 
factors in Tibetan politics. 

1. The Gelugpa or Yellow Church, very strong but anxious 
to become stronger both by increasing its temporal power and 
by suppressing other sects. Its attitude towards Chinese and 
Mongols showed no prejudice and was dictated by policy. 

2. The Tibetan chiefs and people, on the whole respectful 
to the Yellow Church but not single-hearted nor forgetful of 
older sects: averse to Chinese and prone to side with Mongols. 

3. The Mongols, conscious of their imperfect civilization and 
anxious to improve themselves by contact with the Lamas. As 
a nation they wished to repeat their past victories over China, 
and individual chiefs wished to make themselves the head of 
the nation. People and princes alike respected all Lamas. 

4. The Chinese, apprehensive of the Mongols and desirous 
to keep them tranquil, caring little for Lamaism in itself but 
patiently determined to have a decisive voice in ecclesiastical 
matters, since the Church of Lhasa had become a political power 
in their border lands. 

Lo-zang was born as the son of a high Tibetan official about 
1616 and was educated in the Depung monastery under the 
supervision of Chos-kyi-Gyal-tsan, abbot of Tashilhunpo and a 
man of political weight. The country was then divided into 
Khamdo, Wu and Tsang, or Eastern, Central and Western 
Tibet, and in each province there ruled a king of the Phagmodu 
dynasty. In Central Tibet, and specially at Lhasa, the Gelugpa 
was the established church and accepted by the king but in the 
other provinces there was much religious strife and the older 
sects were still predominant. About 1630 the regent of Tsang 
captured Lhasa and made himself sovereign of all Tibet. He 
was a follower of the Sakya sect and his rule was a menace to 
the authority and even to the existence of the Yellow Church, 
which for some years suffered much tribulation. When the 
young Grand Lama grew up, he and his preceptor determined 
to seek foreign aid and appealed to Gushi Khan 1 . This prince 

1 The name is variously written Gushi, Gushri, Gus ri, etc., and is said to 
stand for Gurusri. The name of the tribe also varies: Oirad and Oegeled are 
both found. 


was a former pupil of Chos-kyi-Gyal-tsan and chief of the Oelot, 
the ancestors of the Kalmuks and other western tribes, but then 
living near Kokonor. He was a staunch member of the Yellow 
Church and had already made it paramount in Khamdo which 
he invaded in 1638. He promptly responded to the appeal, 
invaded Tibet, took the regent prisoner, and, after making him 
self master of the whole country, handed over his authority to 
the Grand Lama, retaining only the command of his Mongol 
garrisons. This arrangement was advantageous to both parties. 
The Grand Lama not only greatly increased his ecclesiastical 
prestige but became a temporal sovereign of considerable 
importance. Gushi, who had probably no desire to reside 
permanently in the Snow Land, received all the favours which 
a grateful Pope could bestow on a king and among the super 
stitious Mongols these had a real value. Further the Oelot 
garrisons which continued to occupy various points in Tibet 
gave him a decisive voice in the affairs of the country, if there 
was ever a question of using force. 

The Grand Lamas had hitherto resided in the Depung 
monastery but Lo-zang now moved to the hill of Marpori, the 
former royal residence and began to build on it the Potala 1 
palace which, judging from photographs, must be one of the most 
striking edifices in the world, for its stately walls continue the 
curves of the mountain side and seem to grow out of the living 
rock. His old teacher was given the title of Panchen Rinpoche, 
which has since been borne by the abbots of Tashilhunpo, and 
the doctrine that the Grand Lamas of Lhasa and Tashilhunpo 
are respectively incarnations of Avalokita and Amitabha was 
definitely promulgated 2 . 

The establishment of the Grand Lama as temporal ruler of 
Tibet coincided with the advent of the Manchu dynasty (1644). 
The Emperor and the Lama had everything to gain from friendly 
relations and their negotiations culminated in a visit which 

1 So called from the sacred hill in India on which Avalokita lives. The origin of 
the name is doubtful but before the time of Hsiian Chuang it had come to be applied 
to a mountain in South India. 

2 Some European authorities consider that Lo-zang invented this system of 
incarnations. Native evidence seems to me to point the other way, but it must be 
admitted that if he was the first to claim for himself this dignity it would be natural 
for him to claim it for his predecessors also and cause ecclesiastical history to be 
written accordingly. 


Lo-zang paid to Peking in 1652-3. He was treated as an inde 
pendent sovereign and received from the Emperor a long title 
containing the phrase "Self -existent Buddha, Universal Ruler 
of the Buddhist faith." In return he probably undertook to use 
his influence with the Mongols to preserve peace and prevent 
raids on China. 

After his return to Tibet, he appears to have been a real as 
well as a nominal autocrat for his preceptor and Gushi Khan 
both died, and the new Manchu dynasty had its hands full. 
His chief adviser was the Desi 1 or Prime Minister, supposed to 
be his natural son. In 1666 the great Emperor K ang-hsi 
succeeded to the throne : and shortly afterwards the restlessness 
of the Mongol Princes began to inspire the Chinese Court with 
apprehension. In 1680 Lo-zang died but his death was a state 
secret. It was apparently known in Tibet and an infant successor 
was selected but the Desi continued to rule in Lo-zang s name 
and even the Emperor of China had no certain knowledge of his 
suspected demise but probably thought that the fiction of his 
existence was the best means of keeping the Mongols in order. 
It was not until 1696 that his death and the accession of a youth 
named Thsang-yang Gya-thso were made public. 

But the young Grand Lama, who owing to the fiction that 
his predecessor was still alive had probably been brought up 
less strictly than usual, soon began to inspire alarm at Peking 
for he showed himself wilful and intelligent. He wrote love 
songs which are still popular and his licentious behaviour was 
quite out of harmony with the traditions of the holy see. In 
1701, under joint pressure from the Chinese and Mongols, he 
resigned his ecclesiastical rights and handed over the care of 
the Church to the abbot of Tashilhunpo, while retaining his 
position as temporal ruler. But the Chinese still felt uneasy 
and in 1705 succeeded in inducing him to undertake a journey 
to Peking. When he got as far as Mongolia he died of either 
dropsy or assassination. The commander of the Oelot garrisons 
in Tibet was a friend of the Chinese, and at once produced a new 
Grand Lama called Yeses, a man of about twenty-five, who 
claimed to be the true reincarnation of the fifth Grand Lama, 
the pretensions of the dissolute youth who had just died being 
thus set aside. It suited the Chinese to deal with an adult, who 

1 sDe-srid. 


could be made to understand that he had received and held his 
office only through their good will, but the Tibetans would have 
none of this arrangement. They clung to the memory of the 
dissolute youth and welcomed with enthusiasm the news that 
he had reappeared in Li-t ang as a new-born child, who was 
ultimately recognized as the seventh Grand Lama named 
Kalzang. The Chinese imprisoned the infant with his parents in 
the monastery of Kumbum in Kansu and gave all their support 
to Yeses. For the better control of affairs in Lhasa two Chinese 
Agents were appointed to reside there with the Manchu title 
of Amban 1 . 

But the Tibetans would not accept the rule of Yeses and in 
1717 the revolutionary party conspired with the Oelot tribes of 
Hi to put Kalzang on the throne by force. The troops sent to 
take the holy child were defeated by the Chinese but those which 
attacked Lhasa were completely successful. Yeses abdicated 
and the city passed into the possession of the Mongols. The 
Chinese Government were greatly alarmed and determined to 
subdue Tibet. Their first expedition was a failure but in 1720 
they sent a second and larger, and also decided to install the 
youthful Kalzang as Grand Lama, thus conciliating the religious 
feelings of the Tibetans. The expedition met with little difficulty 
and the result of it was that China became suzerain of the whole 
country. By imperial edict the young Grand Lama was recog 
nized as temporal ruler, the four ministers or Kalon were given 
Chinese titles, and garrisons were posted to keep open the road 
from China. But the Tibetans were still discontented. In 1727 
a rebellion, instigated it was said by the family of the Grand 
Lama, broke out, and the Prime Minister was killed. This rising 
was not permanently successful and the Chinese removed the 
Grand Lama to the neighbourhood of their frontier. They felt 
however that it was unsafe to give ground for suspicion that they 
were ill-treating him and in 1734 he was reinstated in the Potala. 
But the dislike of the Tibetans for Chinese supervision was plain. 
In 1747 there was another rebellion. The population of Lhasa 
rose and were assisted by Oelot troops who suddenly arrived on 
the scene. Chinese rule was saved only by the heroism of the 
two Chinese Agents, who invited the chief conspirators to a 
meeting and engaged them in personal combat. They lost their 

1 It is said that all Ambans were Manchus. 


own lives but killed the principal rebels. The Chinese then 
abolished the office of Prime Minister, increased their garrison 
and gave the Agents larger powers. 

About 1758 the Grand Lama died and was succeeded by an 
infant called Jambal. The real authority was wielded by the 
Panchen Lama who acted as regent and was so influential that 
the Emperor Ch ien-Lung insisted on his visiting Peking 1 . He 
had a good reception and probably obtained some promise that 
the government of Tibet would be left more in the hands of the 
Church but he died of smallpox in Peking and nothing came of 
his visit except a beautiful tomb and an epitaph written by the 
Emperor. After his death a new complication appeared. The 
prelates of the Red Church encouraged an invasion of the 
Gurkhas of Nepal in the hope of crushing the Yellow Church. 
The upshot was that the Chinese drove out the Gurkhas but 
determined to establish a more direct control. The powers of 
the Agents were greatly increased and not even the Grand Lama 
was allowed the right of memorializing the throne, but had to 
report to the Agents and ask their orders. 

In 1793 Ch ien-Lung issued a remarkable edict regulating the 
appearance of incarnations which, as he observed, had become 
simply the hereditary perquisites of certain noble Mongol 
families. He therefore ordered that when there was any question 
of an incarnation the names of the claimants to the distinction 
should be written on slips of paper and placed in a golden bowl : 
that a religious service should be held and at its close a name be 
drawn from the bowl in the presence of the Chinese Agents and 
the public. The child whose name should be drawn was to be 
recognized as the true incarnation but required investiture by 
an imperial patent. 

A period of calm followed, and when the Grand Lama died 
in 1804 the Tibetans totally neglected this edict and selected 
a child born in eastern Tibet. The Chinese Court, desirous of 
avoiding unnecessary trouble, approved 2 the choice on the 
ground that the infant s precocious ability established his divine 

1 See E. Ludwig, The visit of the Teshoo Lama to Peking, Tientsin Press, 1904. 
See also J.A.8.B. 1882, pp. 29-52. 

2 See the curious edict of Chia Ch ing translated by Waddell in J.R.A.8. 1910, 
pp. 69 ff. The Chinese Government were disposed to discredit the sixth, seventh 
and eighth incarnations and to pass straight from the fifth Grand Lama to the 


character but when he died in 1815 and an attempt was made 
to repeat this irregularity, a second edict was published, in 
sisting that the names of at least three candidates must be 
placed in the golden urn and that he whose name should be 
first drawn must be Grand Lama. This procedure was followed 
but the child elected by the oracle of the urn died before he 
was twenty and another infant was chosen as his successor in 
1838. As a result the Lama who was regent acquired great 
power and also unpopularity. His tyranny caused the Tibetans 
to petition the Emperor; and His Majesty sent a new Agent to 
investigate his conduct. Good reason was shown for holding 
him responsible for the death of the Grand Lama in 1838 and 
for other misdeeds. The Emperor then degraded and banished 
him and, what is more singular, forbade him to reappear in a 
human reincarnation. 

The reigns of Grand Lamas in the nineteenth century have 
mostly been short. Two others were selected in 1858 and 1877 
respectively. The latter who is the present occupant of the post 
was the son of a Tibetan peasant: he was duly chosen by the 
oracle of the urn and invested by the Emperor. In 1893 he 
assumed personal control of the administration and terminated 
a regency which seems to have been oppressive and unpopular. 
The British Government were anxious to negotiate with him 
about Sikhim and other matters, but finding it impossible to 
obtain answers to their communications sent an expedition to 
Lhasa in 1904. The Grand Lama then fled to Urga, in which 
region he remained until 1907. In the autumn of 1908 he was 
induced to visit Peking where he was received with great 
ceremony but, contrary to the precedent established when the 
fifth Grand Lama attended Court, he was obliged to kneel and 
kotow before the Empress Dowager. Neither could he obtain 
the right to memorialize the throne, but was ordered to report 
to the Agents. The Court duly recognized his religious position. 
On the birthday of the Empress he performed a service for her 
long life, at which Her Majesty was present. It was not wholly 
successful, for a week or two later he officiated at her funeral. 
At the end of 1908 he left for Lhasa. He visited India in 1910 
but this created dissatisfaction at Peking. In the same year 1 

1 See for a translation of this curious decree, North China Herald of March 4th, 


a decree was issued deposing him from his spiritual as well as 
his temporal powers and ordering the Agents to seek out a new 
child by drawing lots from the golden urn. This decree was 
probably ultra vires and certainly illogical, for if the Chinese 
Government recognized the Lama as an incarnation, they could 
not, according to the accepted theory, replace him by another 
incarnation before his death. And if they regarded him as a 
false incarnation, they should have ordered the Agents to seek 
out not a child but a man born about the time that the last 
Grand Lama died. At any rate the Tibetans paid no attention 
to the decree. 

The early deaths of Grand Lamas in the nineteenth century 
have naturally created a presumption that they were put out 
of the way and contemporary suspicion accused the regent in 
1838. There is no evidence that the deaths of the other three 
were regarded as unnatural but the earlier Grand Lamas as well 
as the abbots of Tashilhunpo lived to a good age. On the other 
hand the Grand Lamas of Urga are said to die young. If the 
pontiffs of some lines live long and those of others die early, 
the inference is not that the life of a god incarnate is unhealthy 
but that in special cases special circumstances interfere with it, 
and on the whole there are good grounds for suspecting foul 
play. But it is interesting to note that most Europeans who 
have made the acquaintance of high Lamas speak in praise of 
their character and intelligence. So Manning (the friend of 
Charles Lamb) of the ninth Grand Lama (1811), Bogle of the 
Tashi Lama about 1778, Sven Hedin of his successor in 1907, 
and Waddell of the Lama Regent in 1904. 

The above pages refer to the history of Lamaism in Tibet 
and Mongolia. It also spread to China, European Russia, Ladak, 
Sikhim and Bhutan. In China it is confined to the north and 
its presence is easily explicable by the genuine enthusiasm of 
Khubilai and the encouragement given on political grounds by 
the Ming and Manchu dynasties. Further, several Mongol towns 
such as Kalgan and Kuku-khoto are within the limits of the 
eighteen provinces. 

The Kalmuks who live in European Russia are the descend 
ants of tribes who moved westwards from Dzungaria in the 
seventeenth century. Many of them left Russia and returned 
to the east in 1771, but a considerable number remained behind, 


chiefly between the Volga and the Don, and the population 
professing Lamaism there is now reckoned at about 100,000. 

Buddhist influences may have been at work in Ladak from 
an early period. In later times it can be regarded as a depend 
ency of Tibet, at any rate for ecclesiastical purposes, for it 
formed part of Tibet until the disruption of the kingdom in the 
tenth century and it subsequently accepted the sovereignty of 
Lhasa in religious and sometimes in political matters. Con 
cerning the history of Bhutan, I have been able to discover but 
little. The earliest known inhabitants are called Tephu and the 
Tibetans are said to have conquered them about 1670. Lamaism 
probably entered the country at this time, if not earlier 1 . At 
any rate it must have been predominant in 1774 when the 
Tashi Lama used his good offices to conclude peace between the 
Bhutiyas and the East India Company. The established church 
however is not the Gelugpa but the Dugpa, which is a sub 
division of the Kar-gyu-pa. There are two rulers in Bhutan, the 
Dharmaraja or spiritual and the Debraja or temporal. The 
former is regarded as an incarnation of the first class, though it 
is not clear of what deity 2 . 

The conversion of Sikhim is ascribed to a saint named Latsiin 
Ch embo, who visited it about 1650 with two other Lamas. They 
associated with themselves a native chief whom they ordained as 
a Lama and made king. All four then governed Sikhim. Though 
Latsiin Ch embo is represented as a friend of the fifth Grand 
Lama, the two sects at present found in Sikhim are the Nying- 
ma-pa, the old unreformed style of Lamaism, and the Karmapa, 
a branch of the Kar-gyu-pa, analogous to the Dugpa of Bhutan. 
The principal monasteries are at Pemiongchi (Peme-yang-tse) 
and Tashiding 3 . 

1 In the List of the Bhutan Hierarchs given by Waddell (Buddhism, p. 242) it 
is said that the first was contemporary with the third Grand Lama, 1643-1580. 

2 According to Waddell (Buddhism, p. 242) he appears to be a rebirth of Dupgani 
Sheptun, a Lama greatly respected by the Tibetan invaders of Bhutan. For some 
account of the religion of Bhutan in the early 19th century, see the article by Davis 
in T.R.A.S. vol. n. 1830, p. 491. 

8 The fullest account of Sikhimese Buddhism is given by Waddell in the Gazetteer 
of Sikhim, 1894. See also Re" my, Pehrinage au Monastere de Pemmiontsi, 1880; 
Silacara "Buddhism in Sikkim," Buddhist Review, 1916, p. 97. 


TIBET (continued) 


TIBET is so remote and rude a land that it is a surprise to learn 
that it has a voluminous literature and further that much of 
this literature, though not all, is learned and scholastic. The 
explanation is that the national life was most vigorous in the 
great monasteries which were in close touch with Indian 
learning. Moreover Tibetan became to some extent the Latin of 
the surrounding countries, the language of learning and religion. 
For our purpose the principal works are the two great 
collections of sacred and edifying literature translated into 
Tibetan and known as the Kanjur and Tanjur 1 . The first 
contains works esteemed as canonical, including Tantras. The 
second is composed of exegetical literature and also of many 
treatises on such subjects as medicine, astronomy and grammar 2 . 
The two together correspond roughly speaking to the Chinese 
Tripitaka, but are more bulky. The canonical part is smaller 
but the commentaries and miscellaneous writings more numerous. 
There are also other differences due to the fact that the great 
literary epoch of Tibet was in the ninth century, whereas nearly 
three-quarters of the Chinese Tripitaka had been translated 
before that date. Thus the Kanjur appears to contain none 3 
of the Abhidhamma works of the Hinayana and none of the 
great Nikayas as such, though single sutras are entered in the 
catalogues as separate books. Further there is only one version 
of the Vinaya whereas the Chinese Tripitaka has five, but there 

1 The Tibetan orthography is bKah-hgyur (the translated command) and 
bsTan-hgyur (the translated explanation). Various spellings are used by European 
writers such as Kah-gyur, Kandjour, Bkahgyur, etc. Waddell writes Kah-gyur 
and Tan-gyur. 

2 Though this distinction seems to hold good on the whole, yet it is not strictly 
observed. Thus the work called Udana and corresponding to the Dhammapada is 
found in both the Kanjur and Tanjur. 

3 Nanjio s catalogue states that a great many Abhidharma works in Chinese 
agree with Tibetan, but their titles are not to be found in Csoma s analysis of the 
Kanjur. They may however be in the Tanjur, which is less fully analyzed. 


are several important Tantras which are wanting in Chinese. 
The Tibetan scriptures reflect the late Buddhism of Magadha 
when the great books of the Hmayanist Canon were neglected, 
though not wholly unknown, and a new tantric literature was 
flourishing exuberantly. 

The contents of the Kanjur and Tanjur are chiefly known by 
analyses and indices 1 , although several editions and trans 
lations of short treatises have been published 2 . The information 
obtained may be briefly summarized as follows. 

The Kanjur in its different editions consists of one hundred 
or one hundred and eight volumes, most of which contain several 
treatises, although sometimes one work, for instance the Vinaya, 
may fill many volumes. The whole collection is commonly 
divided into seven parts 3 . 

I. The Dulva 4 , equivalent to the Vinaya. It is stated to be 
the Mula-sarvastivada Vinaya, and so far as any opinion can be 
formed from the small portions available for comparison, it 
agrees with the Chinese translation of Kumarajiva and also 
(though with some difference in the order of paragraphs) with 
the Sanskrit Pratimoksha found at Kucha 5 . It is longer and 
more mixed with narrative than the corresponding Pali code. 

1 Analysis of the Dulva, etc., four parts in Asiatic Researches, vol. xx. 1836, by 
A. Csoma Korosi. Translated into French by Peer, Annales du Muste Guimet, 
tome 2me, 1881. Index des Kanjur, herausgegebeh von I. J. Schmidt (in Tibetan), 
1845. Huth, Verzeichnis der in Tibetischen Tanjur, Abtheilung mDo, erhaltenen 
Werke in Sitzungsber. Berlin. Akad. 1895. P. Cordier, Catalogue du fonds Tibttain de 
la Bibliotheque Nationale. Beckh, Verzeichnis der tibetischen Handscriften der K. 
Bibliothek zu Berlin, 1 Abth., Kanjur, 1914. This is an analysis of the edition in 108 
volumes, whereas Csoma de KOTOS and Feer analyzed the edition in 100 volumes. 
The arrangement of the two editions is not quite the same. See too Pelliot s review 
of Beckh s catalogue in J.A. 1914, n. pp. Ill ff. See also Waddell, "Tibetan Manu 
scripts and Books" in Asiatic Quarterly, July, 1912, pp. 80-113, which, though not 
an analysis of the Canon, incidentally gives much information. 

2 E.g. Udana (^Dhammapada) by Rockhill, 1892 (transl.), and Beckh (text 
1911) Madhyamakavatara: de la Vallee Poussin, 1912, Madyamika-sastra : Max 
Walleser, 1911 (transl.), Citralakshana, ed. and trans. -Laufer, 1913; Feer, Frag 
ments extraits du Kanjur, Annales du Musie Ouimet, tome 5me, 1883. 

8 It is also sometimes divided into three Pitakas. When this is done, the Dulva 
is the Vinaya P., the Ser-chin is the Abhidharma P., and all the other works whether 
Sutras or Tantras are classed together as the Sutra P. 

4 hDul-ba. 

6 See Nanjio, Nos. 1115-1119, 1122, 1132-^. Rockhill, Pratimoksha Sutra sehn 
la version TMtaine, 1884. Huth, Tibetische Version der Naihsargikaprdyaccit- 
tikadharmds, 1891. Finot and Hiiber, "Le Pratimoksa des Sarvastivadins," J.A. 
1913, ii. p. 465. 


II. The second division is known as Ser-chin 1 , corre 
sponding to the Prajna-paramita and in the estimation of the 
Tibetans to the Abhidharma. It is said to have been first 
collected by Kasyapa and to represent the teaching delivered 
by the Buddha in his fifty-first year. This section appears to 
contain nothing but versions, longer or shorter, of the Prajna- 
paramita, the limit of concentration being reached by a text in 
which the Buddha explains that the whole of this teaching is 
comprised in the letter A. As in China and Japan, the Vajrac- 
chedika (rDo-r Je-gCod-pa) is very popular and has been printed 
in many editions. 

III. The third division is called Phal-chen, equivalent to 
Avatamsaka. Beckh treats it as one work in six volumes with 
out subdivisions. Feer gives forty-five subdivisions, some of 
which appear as separate treatises in the section of the Chinese 
Tripitaka called Hua Yen 2 . 

IV. The fourth division called dKon-brtsegs or Ratnakuta 
agrees closely with the similar section of the Chinese Tripitaka 
but consists of only forty-eight or forty-five sutras, according 
to the edition 3 . 

V. The fifth section is called mDo, equivalent to Sutra. In 
its narrower sense mDo means sutras which are miscellaneous 
in so far as they do not fall into special classes, but it also com 
prises such important works as the Lalita-vistara, Lankavatara 
and Saddharma-pundarika. Of the 270 works contained in this 
section about 90 are prima facie identical with works in the 
Ching division of the Chinese Tripitaka and probably the 
identity of many others is obscured by slight changes of title. 
An interesting point in the mDo is that it contains several 
sutras translated from the Pali 4 , viz. Nos. 13-25 of vol. xxx, 

1 Strictly Ser-phyin. 

2 Waddell in Asiatic Quarterly, 1912, xxxiv. p. 98, renders the title as Vata 
sangha, which probably represents Avatamsaka. Sarat Chandra Das, sub voce, 
says Phal-chen-sde-pa = Mahasanghika. 

3 The statements of Nanjio as to "deest in Tibetan" are not quite accurate as 
regards the edition in 108 volumes. Compare his catalogue with Beckh s. 

4 This statement made by such scholars as Feer (Anal, du Kanjour, p. 288) and 
Rockhill ( Uddna, p. x) is of great weight, but I have not found in their works 
any quotation from the Tibetan translation saying that the original language was 
not Sanskrit and the titles given by Feer are in Sanskrit not in Pali. I presume it 
is not meant that the Tibetan text is a translation from a Sanskrit text which 
corresponds with the Ptli text known to us. In Beckh s catalogue of the edition in 


nine of which are taken from the collection known as Paritta. 
The names and dates of the translators are not given but the 
existence of these translations probably indicates that a know 
ledge of Pali lingered on in Magadha later than is generally 
supposed. It will also be remembered that about A.D. 1000, 
Atisa though a Tantrist, studied in Burma and presumably 
came in contact with Pah* literature. Rockhill notes that the 
Tanjur contains a commentary on the Lotus Sutra written by 
Prithivibandhu, a monk from Ceylon, and Pali manuscripts have 
been found in Nepal 1 . It is possible that Sinhalese may have 
brought Pali books to northern India and given them to Tibetans 
whom they met there. 

VI. The sixth division is called Myang-hdas or Nirvana, 
meaning the description of the death of the Buddha which also 
forms a special section in the Chinese Tripitaka. Here it con 
sists of only one work, apparently corresponding to Nanjio 113 2 . 

VII. The seventh and last section is called rGyud 8 or 
Tantra. It consists of twenty-two volumes containing about 
300 treatises. Between thirty and forty are prima facie identical 
with treatises comprised in the Chinese Tripitaka and perhaps 
further examination might greatly increase the number, for the 
titles of these books are often long and capable of modification. 
Still it is probable that the major part of this literature was either 
deliberately rejected by the Chinese or was composed at a period 
when religious intercourse had become languid between India 
and China but was still active between India and Tibet. From 
the titles it appears that many of these works are Brahmanic 
in spirit rather than Buddhist; thus we have the Mahagahapati- 
tantra, the Mahakala-tantra, and many others. Among the 
better known Tantras may be mentioned the Arya-mafijusri- 
mula-tantra and the Sri-Guhya Samaja 4 , both highly praised 
by Csoma de Koros : but perhaps more important is the Tantra 

108 volumes the same titles occur in the Prajna-paramita section, but without any 
statement that the works are translated from Pali. See Beckh, p. 12, and Feer, 
pp. 288 ff. 

1 Life of the Buddha, p. 224, and J.R.A.S. 1899, p. 422. 

2 There is another shorter siitra on the same subject in the mDo section of the 
Kanjur. Feer, p. 247. In the edition of 108 volumes, the whole section is incor 
porated in the mDo, Beckh, p. 33. 

8 The word seems originally to mean string or chain. 

4 Apparently not the same as the Tathagata-Guhyaka alias Guhya Samagha 
described by R. Mitra, Sk. Bud. Lit. p. 261. 


on which the Kalacakra system is founded. It is styled Para- 
madibuddha-uddhrita-sri-kalacakra and there is also a com 
pendium giving its essence or Hridaya. 

The Tanjur is a considerably larger collection than the 
Kanjur for it consists of 225 volumes but its contents are 
imperfectly known. A portion has been catalogued by Palmyr 
Cordier. It is known to contain a great deal of relatively late 
Indian theology such as the works of Asvaghosha, Nagarjuna, 
Asanga, Vasubandhu, and other Mahayanist doctors, and also 
secular literature such as the Meghaduta of Kalidasa, together 
with a multitude of works on logic, rhetoric, grammar and 
medicine 1 . Some treatises, such as the Udana 2 occur in both 
collections but on the whole the Tanjur is clearly intended as 
a thesaurus of exegetical and scientific literature, science being 
considered, as in the middle ages of Europe, to be the handmaid 
of the Church. Grammar and lexicography help the under 
standing of scripture: medicine has been of great use in estab 
lishing the influence of the Lamas : secular law is or should be 
an amplification of the Church s code: history compiled by 
sound theologians shows how the true faith is progressive and 
triumphant: art and ritual are so near together that their 
boundaries can hardly be delimitated. Taking this view of the 
world, we find in the Tanjur all that a learned man need know 3 . 

It is divided into two parts, mDo (Sutra) andrGyud (Tantra), 
besides a volume of hymns and an index. The same method of 
division is really applicable to the Kanjur, for the Tibetan Dulva 
is little more than a combination of Sutras and Jatakas and 
sections two, three, four and six of the Kanjur are collections of 
special sutras. In both compilations the tantric section appears 
to consist of later books expounding ideas which are further 
from the teaching of Gotama than the Mahayanist sutras. 

1 See notices of these in four articles by Satis" candra Vidyabhushana in J.A.S. 
Beng. 1907. 

2 I.e. the Dhammapada. 

8 Huth s analysis of vols. 117-124 of the Tanjur (Sitzungsber. Kon. Preuss. Akad. 
Wiss. Berlin, 1895) shows that they contain inter alia eight works on Sanskrit 
literature and philology besides the Meghaduta, nine on medicine and alchemy with 
commentaries, fourteen on astrology and divination, three on chemistry (the com 
position of incense), eight on gnomic poetry and ethics, one encyclopaedia, six lives 
of the Saints, six works on the Tibetan language and five on painting and fine art. 
Cordier gives further particulars of the medical works in B.E.F.E.O. 1903, p. 604. 
They include a veterinary treatise. 


To the great majority of works in both collections is prefixed 
a title which gives the Sanskrit name first in transcription and 
then in translation, for instance "In Sanskrit Citralakshana : in 
Tibetan Ri-moi-mthsan-fiid 1 ." Hence there is usually no doubt 
as to what the Tibetan translations profess to be. Sometimes 
however the headings are regrettably brief. The Vinaya for 
instance appears to be introduced with that simple super 
scription and with no indication of the school or locality to 
which the text belonged. 

Although the titles of books are given in Sanskrit, yet all 
Indian proper names which have a meaning (as most have) are 
translated. Thus the name Drona (signifying a measure and 
roughly equivalent to such an English name as Dr Bushell) is 
rendered by Bre-bo, a similar measure in Tibetan. This habit 
greatly increases the difficulty of reading Tibetan texts. The 
translators apparently desired to give a Tibetan equivalent for 
every word and even for every part of a word, so as to make clear 
the etymology as well as the meaning of the sacred original. The 
learned language thus produced must have varied greatly from 
the vernacular of every period but its slavish fidelity makes 
it possible to reconstruct the original Sanskrit with tolerable 

I have already mentioned the presence of translations from 
the Pali. There are also a few from the Chinese 2 which appear 
to be of no special importance. One work is translated from the 
Bru-za language which was perhaps spoken in the modern 
Gilgit 3 and another from the language of Khotan 4 . Some works 
in the Kanjur have no Sanskrit titles and are perhaps original 
compositions in Tibetan. The Tanjur appears to contain many 

But the Kanjur and Tanjur as a whole represent the 
literature approved by the late Buddhism of Bengal and certain 
resemblances to the arrangement of the Chinese Tripitaka 

1 See title in Laufer s edition. 

2 See Feer, l.c, for instance,, pp. 287, 248. 

3 See Feer, I.e. p. 344, and Laufer, "Die Bruza Sprache" in T oung Pao, 1908. 
It is said that King Ru-che-tsan of Brusha or Dusha translated ( ? what date) the 
Mula-Tantra and Vyakhya-Tantra into the language of his country See J.A.S.B. 
1882, p. 12. Beckh states that four works have titles in Chinese, one in Bruia and 
one in Tartar (Hor-gyi-skad-du). 

4 Laufer, ibid. p. 4. 


suggest that not only new siitras but new classifications of 
sutras had replaced the old Pitakas and Agamas. The Tibetan 
Canon being later than the Chinese has lost theAbhidharma and 
added a large section of Tantras. But both canons recognize 
the divisions known as Prajna-paramita, Ratnakuta, Avatam- 
saka, and Mahaparinirvana as separate sections. The Ratnakuta 
is clearly a collection of sutras equivalent to a small Nikaya 1 . 
This is probably also true of the voluminous Prajna-paramita in 
its various editions, but the divisions are not commonly treated 
as separate works except the Vajraechedika. The imperfectly 
known Avatamsaka Sutra appears to be a similar collection, 
since it is described as discourses of the Buddha pronounced at 
eight assemblies 2 . The Mahaparinirvana Sutra though not 
nominally a collection of sutras (at least in its Pali form) is 
unique both in subject and structure, and it is easy to under 
stand why it was put in a class by itself. 

The translation of all this literature falls into three periods, 
(i) from the seventh century until the reign of Ralpachan in the 
ninth, (ii) the reign of Ralpachan, and (iii) some decades following 
the arrival of Atisa in 1038. In the first period work was sporadic 
and the translations made were not always those preserved in 
the Kanjur. Thonmi Sanbhota, the envoy sent to India in 616 
is said to have made renderings of the Karanda Vyiiha and 
other works (but not those now extant) and three items in the 
Tanjur are attributed to him 1 . The existence of early transla 
tions has been confirmed by Stein who discovered at Endere 
a Tibetan manuscript of the Salistambhasutra which is said not 
to be later than about 740 A. D. 3 The version now found in the 
Kanjur appears to be a re vision and expansion of this earlier text. 

A few translations from Chinese texts are attributed to the 
reign of Khri-gtsug-lde-btsan (705-755) and Rockhill calls 
attention to the interesting statement that he sent envoys to 
India who learned Sanskrit books by heart and on their return 
reproduced them in Tibetan. If this was a common habit, it 
may be one of the reasons why Tibetan translations sometimes 

1 See Nanjio, No. 87, and Feer, I.e. pp. 208-212, but the two works may not be 
the same. The Tibetan seems to be a collection of 45 sutras. 

2 Rockhill, I.e. p. 212. 

3 Stein, Ancient Khotan, pp. 426-9 and App. B. See also Pelliot in B.E.F.E.O. 
1908, pp. 507 ff. 


show differences in length, arrangement and even subject matter 
when compared with Sanskrit and Chinese versions bearing 
the same name. During the reign of Khri-srori-lde-btsan and the 
visit of Padma-Sambhava (which began in A.D. 747 according 
to the traditional chronology) the number of translations began 
to increase. Two works ascribed to the king and one to the saint 
are included in the canon, but the most prolific writer and 
translator of this period was Kamalasila. Seventeen of his 
original works are preserved in the Tanjur and he translated 
part of the Ratnakuta. The great period of translation the 
Augustan age of Tibet as it is often called was beginning and 
a solid foundation was laid by composing two dictionaries con 
taining a collection of Sanskrit Buddhist terms 1 . 

The Augustus of Tibet was Ralpachan who ruled in the ninth 
century, though Tibetan and Chinese chronicles are not in 
accord as to his exact date. He summoned from Kashmir and 
India many celebrated doctors who with the help of native 
assistants took seriously in hand the business of rendering the 
canon into Tibetan. They revised the existing translations and 
added many more of their own. It is probable that at least 
half of the works now contained in the Kanjur and Tanjur were 
translated or revised at this time and that the additions made 
later were chiefly Tantras (rGyud). On the other hand it is also 
probable that many tantric translations ascribed to this epoch 
are really later 2 . The most prolific of Ralpachan s translators 
was Jinamitra, a pandit of Kashmir described as belonging to 
the Vaibhashika school, who translated a large part of the 
Vinaya and many sutras 3 . Among the many Tibetan assistants 
Ye ses-sde and Dpal-brTsegs are perhaps those most frequently 
mentioned. These Tibetan translators are commonly described 
by the title of Lo-tsa-va. As in China the usual procedure seems 
to have been that an Indian pandit explained the sacred text 
to a native. The latter then wrote it down, but whereas in China 
he generally paraphrased whatever he understood, in Tibet he 
endeavoured to reproduce it with laborious fidelity. 

1 The Mahavyutpatti edited by Minayeff in Bibl. Buddhica and an abridgement. 

2 According to Feer (Analyse, p. 325) Tibetan historians state that at this epoch 
kings prohibited the translation of more than a few tantric works. 

3 Numerous works are also ascribed to Sarvajnadeva and Dharmaka, both of 
Kashmir, and to the Indian Vidyakaraprabha and Surendrabodhi. 

E. III. 



The language of the translations, which is now the accepted 
form of literary Tibetan, appears to have been an archaic and 
classical dialect even in the early days of Tibetan Buddhism, 
for it is not the same as the language of the secular documents 
dating from the eighth century, which have been found in 
Turkestan, and it remains unchanged in the earliest and later 
translations. It may possibly have been the sacred language of 
the Bonpo 1 priests. 

As narrated in the historical section Buddhism suffered a 
severe reverse with the death of Ralpachan and it was nearly 
a century before a revival began. This revival was distinctly 
tantric and the most celebrated name connected with it is Atisa. 
According to Csoma de Koros s chronology the Kalacakra 
system was introduced in 1025 and the eminent translator 
bLo-ldan-shes-rab 2 , a follower of Atisa, was born in 1057. It is 
thus easy to understand how during the eleventh century a great 
number of tantric works were translated and the published 
catalogues of the Kanjur and Tanjur confirm the fact, although 
the authors of the translations are not mentioned so often as 
in the other divisions. To Atisa is ascribed the revision of many 
works in the Tantra section of the Kanjur and twenty others 
composed by him are found in the Tanjur 3 . It is said that the 
definitive arrangement of the two collections as we know them 
was made by Bu-ston early in the thirteenth century 4 . The 
Kanjur (but not the Tanjur) was translated into Mongol by 
order of Khutuktu Khagan (1604^1634) the last prince of the 
Chakhar Mongols but a printed edition was first published by 
the Emperor K ang-Hsi. Though it is said that the Tanjur was 
translated and printed by order of Ch ien-Lung, the statement 
is doubtful. If such a translation was made it was probably 
partial and in manuscript 5 . 

1 See Francke in J.B.A.S. 1914, pp. 56-7. 

2 See Pander, Pantheon, No. 30. 

8 Waddell, Buddhism, p. 36, gives a list of them. 

4 It appears to me that there is some confusion between Brom-ston, a disciple 
of Atis"a, who must have nourished about 1060 and Bu-ston, who was born in 1288. 
Griinwedel says that the latter is credited with the compilations of the Kanjur 
and Tanjur, but Rockhill (Life of the Buddha, p. 227) describes Bu-ston as a disciple 
of AtiSa. 

6 See Huth, Geschichte des Budd. in der Mongolei, 291, and Laufer, "Skizze der 
Mongolischen Literatur" (in Keleti Szemk, 1907), p. 219. Also Pelliot in J,A. 1914, 
H. pp. 112-3. 


Manuscripts are still extensively copied and used in Tibet 
but the Kanjur has been printed from wooden blocks for the 
last 200 years. There are said to be two printing presses, the 
older at Narthang near Tashilhunpo where an edition in 100 
volumes is produced and another at Derge in the eastern 
province. This edition is in 108 volumes. An edition was also 
printed at Peking by order of K ang-Hsi in red type and with 
a preface by the Emperor himself 1 . 

Besides the canon the Tibetans possess many religious or 
edifying works composed in their own language 2 . Such are the 
Padma-than-yig, or life of Padma-Sambhava, the works of 
Tsong-kha-pa, and several histories such as those of Bu-ston, 
Taranatha, Sum-pa, and hJigs-med-nam-mkha 3 , biographies of 
Lamas without number, accounts of holy places, works of 
private devotion, medical treatises and grammars. 

There are also numerous works called Terma which profess 
to be revelations composed by Padma-Sambhava. They are said 
to be popular, though apparently not accepted by the Yellow 

Although it hardly comes within the scope of the present 
study, I may mention that there is also some non-Buddhist 
literature in Tibet, sometimes described as scriptures of the Bon 
religion and sometimes as folklore. As samples may be cited 
Laufer s edition and translation of the Hundred Thousand 
Ndgas* and Francke s of parts of the Kesar-saga 5 . 

1 See Laufer in Butt, de VAcad. de S. P&ersbourg, 1909, pp. 567-574. There are 
some differences in the editions. That of Narthang is said to contain a series of 
sutras translated from the Pali and wanting in the Red Edition, but not to contain 
two translations from Chinese which are found in the Red Edition. See the preface 
to Beckh s catalogue. The MS. analyzed by him was obtained at Peking, but it is 
not known whence it came. An edition by Ch ien Lung is mentioned by some authors. 
It is also said that an edition is printed at Punakha in Bhutan, and another in Mon 
golian at Kumbum. 

2 Some of these are probably included in the Tanjur, which has not been fully 
catalogued. See J.A.S. Beng. 1904, for a list of 85 printed books bought in Lhasa, 
1902, and Waddell s article in Asiatic Quarterly, July, 1912, already referred to. 

3 Edited and translated by Huth as Oeschichte des Buddhismus in der Mongoki, 

4 Finno Ugrian Society of Helsingfors, 1898. 

5 Same Society, 1900 and 1902, and J.A.S.B. 1906-7. 


TIBET (continued) 


LAMAISM may be defined as a mixture of late Indian Buddhism 
(which is itself a mixture of Buddhism and Hinduism) with 
various Tibetan practices and beliefs. The principal of these are 
demonophobia and the worship of human beings as incarnate 
deities. Demonophobia is a compendious expression for an 
obsession which victimizes Chinese and Hindus to some extent 
as well as Tibetans, namely, the conviction that they are at all 
times surrounded by fierce and terrible beings against whom 
they must protect themselves by all the methods that religion 
and magic can supply. This is merely an acute form of the 
world- wide belief that all nature is animated by good and bad 
spirits, of which the latter being more aggressive require more 
attention, but it assumes startlingly conspicuous forms in Tibet 
because the Church has enlisted all the forces of art, theology 
and philosophy to aid in this war against demons. The externals 
of Tibetan worship suffer much from the idea that benevolent 
deities assume a terrible guise in order to strike fear into the 
hosts of evil 1 . The helpers and saviours of mankind such as 
Avalokita and Tara are often depicted in the shape of raging 
fiends, as hideous and revolting as a fanciful brush and distorted 
brain can paint them. The idea inspiring these monstrous images 
is not the worship of cruelty and terror, but the hope that evil 
spirits may be kept away when they see how awful are the 
powers which the Church can summon. Nevertheless the result 
is that a Lama temple often looks like a pandemonium and 
meeting house for devil-worship, an Olympus tenanted by 
Gorgons, Hydras and Furies. It is only fair to say that Tibetan 
art sometimes represents with success gods and saints in atti 
tudes of repose and authority, and has produced some striking 

1 The Shingon sect in Japan depict benevolent deities in a raging form, Funnu. 
See Kokka, No. 292, p. 58. The idea goes back to India where the canons of sacred 
art recognize that deities can be represented in a pacific (s"anta or saumya) or in a 
terrific (ugra or raudra) form. See Gopinath Rao, Hindu Iconography, vol. I. p. 19, 
and vol. n of the same for a lengthy description of the aspects of Siva. 


portraits 1 , but its most marked feature (which it shares with 
literature) is a morbid love of the monstrous and terrible, a 
perpetual endeavour to portray fiends surrounded with every 
circumstance of horror, and still more appalling deities, all eyes, 
heads and limbs, wreathed with fire, drinking blood from skulls 
and trampling prostrate creatures to death beneath their feet. 
Probably the wild and fantastic landscapes of Tibet, the awful 
suggestions of the spectral mists, the real terrors of precipice, 
desert and storm have wrought for ages upon the minds of 
those who live among them. 

Like demonophobia, the worship of incarnate deities is 
common in eastern Asia but here it acquires an extent and 
intensity unknown elsewhere. The Tibetans show a strange 
power of organization in dealing with the supernatural. In India 
incarnations have usually been recognized post-mortem and as 
incalculable manifestations of the spirit 2 . But at least since the 
seventeenth century, the Lamas have accepted them as part of 
the Church s daily round and administrative work. The practices 
of Shamanism probably prepared the way, for in his mystic 
frenzies the Shaman is temporarily inhabited by a god and the 
extreme ease with which distinguished persons are turned into 
gods or Bodhisattvas in China and Japan is another manifesta 
tion of the same spirit. An ancient inscription 3 applies to the 
kings of Tibet the word hphrul which is also used of the Grand 
Lamas and means that a deity is transformed, or as we say, 
incarnate in a human person. The Yellow Church officially 
recognized 4 the Emperor of China as an incarnation of Manjusri 
and the Mongols believed the Tsar of Russia to be an incarnation 
of the White Tara. 

The admixtures received by Buddhism in Tibet are not alien 
to Indian thought. They received an unusual emphasis but India 
provided terrible deities, like Kali with her attendant fiends, 
and also the idea that the divine embodies itself in human 
personalities or special manifestations. Thus Tibetan Buddhism 
is not so much an amalgam, as a phase of medieval Hindu 

1 E.g. Griiuwedel, Buddhist art in India, fig. 149, id. Mythologie, fig. 64. 

2 But there is still a hereditary incarnation of Ganesa near Poona, which began 
in the seventeenth century. See Asiatic Researches, vn. 381. 

See Waddell in J.R.A.S. 1909, p. 941. 

4 See e.g. J.A.S.B. 1882, p. 41. The Svayambhu Purana also states that Manjusrf 
lives in China. See J. Buddhist Text Society, 1894, vol. n. part n. p. 33. 


religion disproportionately developed in some directions. The 
Lamas have acquired much the same status as the Brahmans. 
If they could not make themselves a hereditary caste, they at 
least enforced the principle that they are the necessary inter 
mediaries between gods and men. Though they adopted the 
monastic system of Buddhism, they are not so much monks as 
priests and ghostly warriors who understand the art of fighting 
with demons. 

Yet Tibet like Japan could assimilate and transform as well 
as borrow. The national and original element in Lamaism be 
comes plain when we compare Tibet with the neighbouring land 
of Nepal. There late Indian Buddhism simply decayed under an 
overgrowth of Brahmanism. In Tibet it acquired more life and 
character than it had in its native Bengal. This new character 
has something monstrous and fantastic in government as well 
as art : the magic fortresses of the Snowland, peopled by priests 
and demons, seem uncanny homes for plain mortals, yet 
Lamaism has the strength belonging to all genuine expressions 
of national character and it clearly suits the Tibetans and 
Mongols. The oldest known form of Tibetan religion had some 
of the same characteristics. It is called Bon or Pon. It would 
be outside my province to discuss it here, but even when first 
heard of it was more than a rude form of animism. In the eighth 
century its hierarchy was sufficiently strong to oppose the 
introduction of Buddhism and it possibly contained a pre- 
buddhist stratum of Iranian ideas 1 . In later times it adopted 
or travestied Buddhist dogma, ritual and literature, much as 
Taoism did in China, but still remained a repository of necro 
mancy, magic, animal sacrifices, devil-dancing, and such like 
practices, which have in all ages corrupted Tibetan Buddhism 
though theoretically disapproved. 

Of Tibetan Buddhism anterior to 747 there is little to be 
said. It consisted hi the sporadic introduction of books and 
images from India and did not assume any national character, 
for it is clear that in this period Tibet was not regarded as a 
Buddhist country. The first phase deserving the name of 
Lamaism begins with the arrival of Padma-Sambhava in 747. 

1 See T oung Pao, 1908, p. 13. For the Bon generally see also J.A.S. Bengal, 
1881, p. 187; Rockhill, Land of the Lamas, pp. 217-218; and T oung Pao, 1901, 
pp. 24-44. 


The Nying-ma-pa or Old School claims to represent his teaching, 
but, as already mentioned, the various sects have interacted on 
one another so much that their tenets are hardly distinctive. 
Still it is pretty clear that what Padma-Sambhava brought with 
him was the late form of India Buddhism called Mantrayana, 
closely allied to the Chen Yen of China, and transported to 
Japan under the name of Shingon and also to the Buddhism of 
Java as represented in the sculptures of Boroboedoer. The Far 
East felt shy of the tantric element in this teaching, whereas the 
Tibetans exaggerated it, but the doctrinal basis is everywhere 
the same, namely, that there are five celestial Buddhas, of 
whom Vairocana is the principal and in some sense the origin. 
These give rise to celestial emanations, female as well as male, 
and to terrestrial reflexes such as Sakyamuni. Among the other 
features of Padma-Sambhava s teaching the following may be 
enumerated with more or less certainty: (a) A readiness to 
tolerate and incorporate the local cults of the countries where 
he preached. (6) A free use of spells (dharani) and magical 
figures (mandala) for the purpose of subduing demons and 
acquiring supernatural powers, (c) The belief that by Buch 
methods an adept can not only summon a deity but assume his 
form and in fact become the deity, (d) The worship of Amitabha, 
among other deities, and a belief in his paradise, (e) The pre 
sentation of offerings, though not of flesh, in sacrifice 1 and the 
performance of ceremonies on behalf of departed souls. (/) The 
worship of departed and perhaps of living teachers. His image 
is a conspicuous object of veneration in the Nying-ma-pa sect 
but he does not appear to have taught the doctrine of hierarchical 
succession by incarnation. Griinwedel 2 has pointed out that the 
later corruptions of Buddhism in northern India, Tibet and 
Central Asia are connected with the personages known as the 
eighty-four Mahasiddhas, or great magicians. Their appearance 
as shown in pictures is that of Brahmanic ascetics rather than 
of Buddhist Bhikshus, but many of them bear names which are 
not Indian. Their dates cannot be fixed at present and appear 

1 The Lamas offer burnt sacrifices but it is not quite clear whether these are 
derived from the Indian homa adopted by Tantric Buddhism or from Tibetan and 
Mongol ceremonies. See, for a description of this ceremony, My Life in Mongolia, 
by the Bishop of Norwich, pp. 108-114. 

8 Mythologie des Buddhismus, p. 40. 


to cover a period from the early centuries of our era up to 
about 1200, so that they represent not a special movement but 
a continuous tendency to import into Buddhism very various 
currents of thought, north Indian, Iranian, Central Asian and 
even Mohammedan. 

The visit of Padma-Sambhava was followed by a period of 
religious activity which culminated in the ninth century under 
King Ralpachan, but it does not appear that the numerous 
translations from Indian works made in this reign did more 
than supplement and amplify the doctrine already preached. 
But when after a lengthy eclipse Buddhism was reinstated in 
the eleventh century under the auspices of Atisa and other 
foreign teachers we hear of something new, called the Kalacakra 1 
system also known as the Vajrayana. Pending the publication 
of the Kalacakra Tantra 2 , it is not easy to make definite state 
ments about this school which presumably marks the extreme 
point of development or degeneration in Buddhism, but a 
persistent tradition connects it with a country called Sambhala 
or Zhambhala, translated in Tibetan as bDe-hbyun or source of 
happiness. This country is seen only through a haze of myth: 
it may have been in India or it may have been somewhere 
in Central Asia, where Buddhism mingled with Turkish ideas 3 . 
Its kings were called Kulika and the Tibetan calendar intro 
duced by Atisa is said to have come from it. This fact and 
the meaning of the word Kalacakra (wheel of time) suggest 
that the system has some connection with the Turkish cycle 
of twelve animals used for expressing dates 4 . A legend 5 
states that Sakyamuni promulgated the Kalacakra system in 
Orissa (Dhanyakataka) and that Sucandra, king of Sambhala, 
having miraculously received this teaching wrote the Kalacakra 
Tantra in a prophetic spirit, although it was not published until 

1 In Tibetan Dus-kyi-hkhor-lo. Mongol, Tsagun kiirdun. 

2 Announced in the Bibliotheca Buddhica. 

3 See Pelliot, Qudques transcriptions apparent&s a Cambhala dans les lexles 
Chinois (in T oung Pao, vol. xx. 1920, p. 73) for some conjectures. Kulika is 
translated into Tibetan as Rigs-Ldan. Tibetan texts speak of books coming from 
Sambhala, see Laufer in T oung Pao, 1913, p. 596. 

4 See Laufer in T oung Pao, 1907, p. 402. In Sumpa s chronology, J.A.S. Beng. 
p. 46, the reign of a Kulika Emperor seems to be simply a designation for a century. 

6 See J.A.S. B. 82, p. 225. The king is also (but apparently incorrectly) called 


965 A. D. This is really the approximate date of its compilation 
and I can only add the following disjointed data 1 . 

Tibetan authorities state that it was introduced into 
Nalanda by a Pandit called Tsilu or Chilu and accepted by 
Narotapa who was then head of the University. From Nalanda 
it spread to Tibet. Manjusrikirti, king of Sambhala, is said to 
have been an exponent of it and to have begun his reign 674 
years after the death of the Buddha. But since he is also the 
second incarnation of the Panchen Lama and since the fourth 
(Abhayakara) lived about 1075, he may really have been a 
historical character in the latter part of the tenth century. Its 
promulgation is also ascribed to a personage called Siddha Pito. 
It must be late for it is said to mention Islam and Mohammed. 
It is perhaps connected with anti-mohammedan movements 
which looked to Kalki, the future incarnation of Vishnu, as their 
Messiah, for Hindu tradition says that Kalki will be born in 
jSambhalagrama 2 . We hear also of a Siddha called Telopa or 
Tailopa, who was a vigorous opponent of Islam. The mythology 
of the school is Vishnuite, not Sivaitic, and it is noticeable that 
the Pancaratra system which had some connection with Kashmir 
lays stress on the wheel or discus (cakra or sudarana) of Vishnu 
which is said to be the support of the Universe and the mani 
festation of Creative will. The Kalacakra is mentioned as a 
special form of this cosmic wheel having six spokes 3 . 

The peculiar doctrine of the Buddhist Kalacakra is that there 
is an Adi-Buddha 4 , or primordial Buddha God, from whom all 
other Buddhas are derived. It is possible that it represents a 
last effort of Central Asian Buddhism to contend with Moslims, 
which instead of denying the bases of Mohammed s teaching 
tried to show that monotheism (like everything else) could be 
found in Buddhism a method of argument frequent in India. 
The doctrine of the Adi-Buddha was not however new or really 

1 See Grunwedel, Mythologie, p. 41. Sarat Chandra Das in J.A.S. Beng. 1882, 
p. 15, and J.A.S. Beng. 1912, p. 21, being reprints of earlier articles by Csoma de 

2 See Kalki Purana. Vishnu Purana, iv. xxiv, Bhag. Pur, xn. ii. 18, and Norman 
in Trans. Ill, Int. Congress Religions, vol. n. p. 85. Also Aufrecht, Cat. Cod. Sanak. 
73A, 84B. 

8 See Schrader, Introd. to the Pdncardtra, pp. 100-106 and 96. 
See the article "Adi Buddha" by De la Vallee Poussin in Hastings Encyc. of 
Religion and Ethics. 


important. For the Indian mind it is implied in the dogma of 
the three bodies of Buddha, for the Sambhogakaya is practically 
an Indian Deva and the Dharmakaya is the pantheos or Brahma. 
Under the influence of the Kalacakra the Lamas did not become 
theists in the sense of worshipping one supreme God but they 
identified with the Adi-Buddha some particular deity, varying 
according to the sects. Thus Samantabhadra, who usually ranks 
as a Bodhisattva that is as inferior to a Buddha was selected 
by some for the honour. The logic of this is hard to explain but 
it is clearly analogous to the procedure, common to the oldest 
and newest phases of Hindu religion, by which a special deity 
is declared to be not only all the other gods but also the universal 
spirit 1 . It does not appear that the Kalacakra Tantra met with 
general acceptance. It is unknown in China and Japan and not 
well known in Nepal 2 . 

The Kalacakra adopted all the extravagances of the Tantras 
and provided the principal Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with 
spouses, even giving one to the Adi-Buddha himself 3 . Extra 
ordinary as this is from a Buddhist point of view, it is little more 
than the Hindu idea that the Supreme Being became male and 
female for the purpose of producing the universe. But the 
general effect of the system on monastic and religious life was 
bad. Celibacy was not observed ; morals, discipline and doctrine 
alike deteriorated. A striking instance is afforded by the 
ceremonies used by Pagspa when receiving Kublai into the 
Church. The Tibetan prelate presumably wished to give the 
Emperor what was best and most important in his creed and 
selected a formula for invoking a demoniac Buddha. 

The latest phase of Lamaism was inaugurated by Tsong- 
kha-pa s reformation and is still vigorous. Politically and socially 
it was of capital importance, for it disciplined the priesthood 

1 See, for a modern example of this, the Ganesatharvasirshopanishad (Anand- 
asrama edition, pp. 11 and 16) Tvam eva sarvam khalvidam Brahmasi. . .Tvam 
Brahma Tvam Vishnus Tvam Rudras Tvam Indras Tvam Agnis Tvam Vayus 
Tvam Suryas Tvam Candramas Tvam Brahma. Here Ganea includes all the 
deities and the Pantheos. There is also a book called Ganesadar^anam in which the 
Vedanta sutras are rewritten and GaneSa made equivalent to Brahma. See Madras, 
Cat. o/Sk. MSS. 1910-1913, p. 1030. 

2 It is just mentioned in S. Le"vi s Nepal II, p. 385, but is not in Rajendralal 
Mitra s Catalogue. 

8 Waddell, Buddhism, p. 131. Pander, Pantheon, p. 69, No. 56. 


and enabled the heads of the Church to rule Tibet. In doctrine 
it was not marked by the importation of new ideas, but it 
emphasized the worship of Avalokita as the patron of Tibet, 
it systematized the existing beliefs about reincarnation, thereby 
creating a powerful hierarchy, and it restricted Tantrism, without 
abolishing it. But many monasteries persistently refused to 
accept these reforms. 

Tibetan mythology and ceremonial have been described in 
detail by Griinwedel, Waddell and others. The pantheon is 
probably the largest in the world. All heaven and hell seem to 
meet in it. The originals of the deities are nearly all to be found 
in Nepalese Buddhism 1 and the perplexing multiplicity of Tibet 
is chiefly due to the habit of representing one deity in many 
forms and aspects, thus making him a dozen or more personages 
both for art and for popular worship. The adoration of saints 
and their images is also more developed than in Nepal and forms 
some counterpoise to the prevalent demonolatry. 

I will not attempt to catalogue this fantastic host but will 
merely notice the principal elements in it. 

The first of these may be called early Buddhist. The figure 
of Sakyamuni is frequent in poses which illustrate the familiar 
story of his life and the statue in the cathedral of Lhasa repre 
senting him as a young man is the most venerated image in all 
Tibet. The human Buddhas anterior to him also receive recogni 
tion together with Maitreya. The Pratimoksha is still known, 
the Uposatha days are observed and the details of the ordination 
services recall the prescriptions of the Pah Vinaya; formulae 
such as the four truths, the eightfold path and the chain of 
causation are still in use and form the basis of ethics. 

The later (but still not tan trie) doctrines of Indian Mahayan- 
ism are naturally prominent. The three bodies of Buddha are 
well known and also the series of five Celestial Buddhas with 
corresponding Bodhisattvas and other manifestations. I feel 
doubtful whether the table given by Waddell 2 can be accepted 

1 Nepalese Buddhism knows not only the Dhyani Buddhas, Saktis and Bodhi 
sattvas including Vajrasattva and Vajradhara, but also deities like Hayagriva, 
Yamantaka, Bhrikuti, Marici, Kurukulla. In both Nepal and Tibet are found 
pictures called Thsogs-siri in which the deities of the Pantheon (or at least the 
principal of them) are grouped according to rank. See for an example containing 
138 deities the frontispiece of Getty s Ooda of Northern Buddhism. 

2 Buddhism, pp. 350-1. 


as a compendium of the Lamaist creed. The symmetry is spoiled 
by the existence of other groups such as the Thirty Buddhas, 
the Thousand Buddhas, and the Buddhas of Healing, and also by 
the habit just mentioned of representing deities in various forms. 
For instance Amoghapasa, theoretically a form of Avalokita, is 
in practice distinct. The fact is that Lamaism accepted the whole 
host of Indian Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, with additions of its 
own. The classifications made by various sutras and tantras 
were not sufficiently dogmatic to become articles of faith: 
chance and fancy determined the prominence and popularity 
of a given figure. Among the Buddhas those most worshipped 
are Amitabha, Sakya and Bhaishajyaguru or the Buddha 
of Healing : among the Bodhisattvas, Avalokita, Maitreya and 

There is nothing in the above differing materially from 
Chinese or Japanese Buddhism. The peculiarities of Tibet are 
brought out by the tantric phase which those countries eschewed. 
Three characteristics of Tibetan Tantrism, which are all more 
or less Indian, may be mentioned. Firstly, all deities, even the 
most august, become familiar spirits, who are not so much 
worshipped as coerced by spells. The neophyte is initiated into 
their mysteries by a special ceremonial 1 : the adept can summon 
them, assume their attributes and attain union with them. 
Secondly, great prominence is given to goddesses, either as the 
counterparts of male deities or as independent. Thirdly, deities 
appear in various forms, described as mild, angry or fiendish. 
It is specially characteristic of Lamaism that naturally benevol 
ent deities are represented as raging in furious frenzy. 

Whether the superhuman beings of Tantrism are Buddhas, 
Bodhisattvas, or Hindu gods like Mahakala, it is correct to 
describe them as deities, for they behave and are treated like 
Indian Devas. Besides the relatively old and simple forms of 
the various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, there are many others 
which are usually accommodated to the system by being 
described as protecting spirits, that is virtuous and religious 
fiends who expend their ferocity on the enemies of the Church. 

Of these Protectors there are two classes, which are not 
mutually exclusive, namely, the tutelary deities of individuals, 

1 For an outline of the method followed by Tibetans in studying the Tantras, 
see Journal Buddhist Text Society, 1893, vol. i. part in. pp. 25-6. 


and the defenders of the faith or tutelaries of the whole Church. 
The former, who are extremely important in the religious life 
of the Lamas, are called Yi-dam and may be compared with the 
Ishta-devatas of the Hindus : the latter or Chos Sky on correspond 
to the Dharmapalas. Every Lama selects a Yi-dam either for 
life or for a period. His choice must remain a secret but he 
himself has no doubts, as after fasting and meditation the deity 
will appear to him 1 . Henceforth he every morning repeats 
formulae which are supposed to give him the appearance of his 
tutelary and thus scare away hostile demons. The most 
efficacious tutelaries are tantric forms of the Dhyani Buddhas, 
especially Vajrasattva, Vajradhara and Amitayus. The deity is 
represented not in the guise of a Buddha but crowned, robed, and 
holding a thunderbolt, and his attributes appear to be derived 
from those of Indra 2 . In his arms he always clasps a Sakti. 

A second class of tutelaries is composed of so-called Buddhas, 
accompanied by Saktis and terrific in aspect, who are manifesta 
tions of the Buddhahood for special purposes. I do not know if 
this description is theologically correct, for these fantastic 
figures have no relation to anything deserving the name of 
Buddhism, but Griinwedel 3 has shown that they are comparable 
with the various forms of Siva. This god does not become 
incarnate like Vishnu but manifests himself from time to time in 
many shapes accompanied by a retinue who are sometimes 
merely attendants and sometimes alternative forms of the Lord. 
Virabhadra, the terrible being created by Siva from himself in 
order to confound Daksha s sacrifice, is a close parallel to the 
demoniac Buddhas of Lamaism. Some of them, such as Mahakala 
and Samvara, show their origin in their names and the rest, 
such as Hevajra, Buddhakapala and Yamantaka, are similar. 
This last is a common subject for art, a many headed and many 
limbed minotaur, convulsed by a paroxysm of devilish passion. 
Among his heads the most conspicuous is the face of an ox, yet 
this grotesque demon is regarded as a manifestation of the 
benign and intellectual Manjusri whose images in other lands 
are among the most gracious products of Buddhist sculpture. 

1 The deity may appear in an unusual form, so the worshipper can easily 
persuade himself that he has received the desired revelation. 

2 A figure identified with Indra or Vajrapani is found in Gandhara sculptures. 

3 Mythologie, p. 97. 


Most tutelary deities of this class act as defenders of the faith 
and each sect has one or two as its special guardians 1 . The idea 
is ancient for even in the Pitakas, Sakka and other spirits 
respectfully protect the Buddha s disciples, and the Dharmapalas 
of Gandharan art are the ancestors of the Chos Sky on. But in 
Tibet these assume monstrous and manifold disguises. The oldest 
is Vajrapani and nearly all the others are forms of Siva (such 
as Acala or Mi-gyo-ba who reappears in Japan as Fudo) or 
personages of his retinue. Eight of them are often adored 
collectively under the name of the Eight Terrible Ones. Several 
of these are well-known figures in Hindu mythology, for though 
the Lamas usually give Buddhist titles to their principal deities, 
yet they also venerate Hindu gods, without any explanation of 
their status. Thus hJigs-med-nam-mkha says that he composed 
his history with the help of Siva 2 . The members of this group 
vary in different enumerations but the following usually form 
part of it. 

(a) Hayagriva 3 , the horse-necked god. In India he appears 
to be connected with Vishnu rather than Siva. The magic dagger 
with which Lamas believe they can stab demons is said to be 
a form of him. The Mongols regard him as the protector of 
horses. (6) Yama, the Indian god of the dead, accompanied by 
a hellish retinue including living skeletons, (c) Mahakala, the 
form of Siva already mentioned. It was by his inspiration that 
Pagspa was able to convert Khubilai Khan, (d) Lha-mo, the 
goddess, that is Devi, the spouse of Siva, (e) ICam-sran, a war 
god of somewhat uncertain origin but perhaps a Tibetan form 
of Kartikeya. Other deities frequently included in this group 
are Yamantaka, mentioned above, Kubera or Vaisravana, the 
Hindu god of wealth, and a deity called the White Brahma 
(Thsangspa dKarpo). This last is an ordinary human figure 
riding on a white horse and brandishing a sword. He wears 
white clothes and a crown or turban. He